[delta-l] Using geographical restrictions in interactive keys

Walker, Ken kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au
Wed Jan 25 06:49:09 CET 2012

Thanks Mike for your reply.

I was talking to the IdentifyLike people about this question and they are also working on integrating specimen data with interactive keys.

They intend to add an additional step.

Step 1 would be to perform a geospatial query which would return a checklist of species for the selected area.
Step 2 would be to perform a modelling query to include species that are "likely" to occur within the geospatial area but have not yet been physically recorded there.
Step 3 to build a key for the known and presumed taxa that occur within the geospatial area.

These are all great initiatives and good make use the available specimen datasets.



-----Original Message-----
From: delta-l-bounces at science.uu.nl [mailto:delta-l-bounces at science.uu.nl] On Behalf Of Mike Dallwitz
Sent: Wednesday, 25 January 2012 4:40 PM
Subject: [delta-l] Using geographical restrictions in interactive keys

- From: Ken Walker
- Subject: Using available datasets

> There is now a concerted effort to aggregate and make available
> location specimen data - OZCAM, AVH, GBIF, ALA etc.
> Is it possible to integrate this specimen data into a species vs
> character matrix? If so, it could greatly expand the functionality of
> a key - E.g. build a key to the species of Polychaetes recorded from
> Lizard Island. The key would begin by checking the latest download of
> specimen data from Lizard Island and then build a key to the species
> recorded in that specimen dataset.

I assume you're referring to interactive keys. The specimen information could be used in Intkey without integrating it into the descriptive data or building a special key.

Presumably the specimen databases could produce reports containing a list of species names from a specified area. These names could be used to define a taxon keyword to restrict identification to that set of species.

Leslie Watson's angiosperm families and grass genera keys (http://delta-intkey.com/angio/ and http://delta-intkey.com/grass/) include predefined keyword definitions for geographical subsets, accessed via a custom toolbar button. For example, a subset for the Australian Capital Territory is defined by the following file.

*SHOW Angiosperm Families in the Australian Capital Territory.
     List adapted from Burbidge and Grey 1970,
     'Flora of the  Australian Capital Territory'.


Any user of the key can similarly define other subsets, e.g. for the taxa found on a university campus.

When the above keys are run via the Web, the keyword definitions are included in the zipfile that is automatically downloaded and read when the key starts. It's also possible to access keyword-definition files directly from the Web. To illustrate this method, I've constructed an example using the key 'British ferns', which is normally accessed via http://delta-intkey.com/britfe/. The example is at http://delta-intkey.com/britfe/webtest.ink. It includes an extra toolbar button 'Select geographical subsets of species'. This displays a dialog generated from the 'contents' file

All taxa *INCLUDE TAXA all
Clare *FILE INPUT http://delta-intkey.com/britfe/clare.txt
Limerick *FILE INPUT http://delta-intkey.com/britfe/limerick.txt
South Kerry *FILE INPUT http://delta-intkey.com/britfe/south_kerry.txt

The dialog displays only the text before the '*' on each line, and the user can select the required subset.

The keyword-definition files are similar to the one shown above, e.g.

Adiantum capillus-veneris
Asplenium adiantum-nigrum
Asplenium marinum
Polystichum setiferum
Pteridium aquilinum subsp. aquilinum
Thelypteris palustris

In this key, this mechanism is redundant, as the key already contains 'characters' specifying the vice counties of Britain in which the species are found, and the user can select them from a map. However, keyword-definition files similar to the above could be generated from a specimen database, either manually as required, or automatically, with regular updates. Automatic generation would, of course, require some programming.

It would probably be possible to modify Intkey to query the specimen databases directly, without using an intermediate keyword-definition file.

Mike Dallwitz
Contact information: http://delta-intkey.com/contact/dallwitz.htm
DELTA home page: http://delta-intkey.com _______________________________________________
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