How to use the key

This tutorial is designed to serve as a brief introduction. It is not exhaustive, but rather seeks to cover the basic concepts required for anyone to quickly begin operating a key.

This tool offers a Javascript-based interactive key built using Lucid3 software. Lucid3 is software for creating and using interactive identification keys. Lucid is developed by Identic in Brisbane, Australia. Visit the Lucidcentral website for more information on Lucid and Lucid3.

Any modern web browser can be used, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. Javascript must be enabled.

An interactive matrix-key is quite different from a traditional dichotomous key. The user is recommended to consult the Best Practices on occasion to pick up new tips and tricks for using the interactive key.

Getting oriented. In contrast to traditional dichotomous keys, a Lucid matrix key allows users to start with any character (called "features" in Lucid). The order of feature selection is not important. The user interface is a window divided into four panels: (a) Features Available, (b) Entities Remaining, (c) Features Chosen, and (d) Entities Discarded. Whenever a feature (i.e., character state) is chosen from the Features Available panel, all entities not exhibiting the feature are automatically placed in the Entities Discarded panel, reducing the number of entities remaining. Theoretically, the more features that are chosen, the shorter the list of available entities becomes. Clicking a chosen feature state will deselect it and return discarded entities back to the Entities Available panel. For additional information and images for a particular entity, users may click on the fact sheet icon. The fact sheet will be displayed in a new window. The function of the icons across the top of the key can be determined by hovering over the icon. You may have to hover for several seconds to see the name of the icon. You may also consult the help manual (the ? icon) for more information.

Lucid Screen Shot

Feature and entity illustration

Each feature in the Features Available panel is listed above two or more of its states (also referred to as feature states). For example, "powdery, fine wax" and "shiny, glossy wax" are two states of the feature "protective covering." Each state is shown alongside or under a state illustration or icon, depending on the display option you choose.

Each taxon in Entities Remaining is linked to a fact sheet page containing informational text and images. This page is indicated by a small grey icon. Each entity is, in addition, linked directly to an image. Taxon images are indicated by icons or thumbnails, depending on the display option you choose. Clicking on an image thumbnail or icon opens the image in a larger window.

Photos used to illustrate feature states are intended to represent a range in appearance and are meant to be used as examples. In choosing a state, your specimen need not exactly match the state's illustration. Rather, choose the state to which your specimen looks the most similar, and/or pick the state that, by its wording, best describes your specimen.