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Using interactive keys
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Using interactive keys

The interactive keys allow the user to make an identification by narrowing down the range of possible taxa by clicking on one or other of the toolbar buttons, for example, in the keys to genera and species the ‘world’ button selects all genera and excludes Australian species, while the ‘Australia’ button makes the reverse selection. When using the key to families, clicking on the ‘region’ button allows the user to select the general biogeographic region of interest, while clicking on the habitat button allows selection of taxa based on their preferred habitat types.

When using the keys, clicking on any character (in the top left window of the Intkey screen) allows the user to select one or more character states that match the specimen being identified. Those characters with greatest power to identify a specimen with the fewest number of decisions are by default placed at the top of the list, but the user should choose the characters with which she or he is most familiar. Selecting a taxon (in the top right window) allows the user to display information and images of that taxon. Other buttons on the toolbars provide various tools which display, for example, differences between remaining taxa (this is an especially useful feature when only a few possible matches remain in the top right window). When an identification terminates at a single taxon, be careful to compare the description and figures with the specimen; any key will deliver an answer, irrespective of mistakes made by the user.

In the final version of this identification tool, it will be possible to link directly from a family name identification made within the key to families directly to the key to all genera and Australian species known within that family. This facility is not available in this demonstration version, instead the family keys are accessed from the "Browse families" toolbar button on most introductory screens.

The keys are constructed using the DELTA program Intkey. More information about the DELTA data format and other programs in the DELTA system can be found at the DELTA web page . The DELTA program and data format was developed by MJ Dallwitz TA Paine and EJ Zurcher, CSIRO Division of Entomology, GPO Box 1700, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. The following references document the DELTA system:

Pankhurst, RJ (1986). A package of computer programs for handling taxonomic databases. CABIOS 2, 33-9.

Dallwitz, MJ (1980). A general system for coding taxonomic descriptions. Taxon 29, 41-6.

Dallwitz, MJ, Paine, TA and Zurcher, EJ (1993 onwards). User's Guide to the DELTA System: a General System for Processing Taxonomic Descriptions. 4th edition. (Edition 4.12, December 2000). http://biodiversity.uno.edu/delta/