[delta-l] Using geographical restrictions in interactive keys

Walker, Ken kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au
Mon Jan 30 01:21:22 CET 2012

> Unfortunately, things that are easier or better for the user are usually more difficult for the author or programmer.

Agreed but without such an effort we would still be working with UNIX line commands and without GUIs - programming efforts to move on from these primitive interfaces have purely been designed to attract users to the software/product.

Here is an example of an ID query I was sent yesterday.  Without developing a geospatial interface, without aggregating tens of thousands of specimens records and without 2 years of image capture for every native bee species in Australia - this public web-based method below would not have been possible.

The data given:

Location:              From Melbourne Boomers Reserve on sweet bursaria, 21 Jan 2012

Images:     4 images were sent - 2 shown here

[cid:image004.png at 01CCDF3C.2F3D4C80]

[cid:image001.png at 01CCDF3A.F81366A0]

The taxon image is recognisable as belonging to Lasioglossum (Parasphecodes) - a subgenus with almost 50 known species which occur Australia wide.

Step 1.

Geospatial query against the complete Australia wide native bee specimen dataset (over 100,000 specimen records in dataset):

[cid:image003.png at 01CCDF3D.6F043E90]

Step 2.

Query against taxon name:

[cid:image007.png at 01CCDF3D.6F043E90]

Note: Step 1 and Step 2 are interchangeable in sequence.

Step 3.

15 species of Parasphecodes were returned to the Geospatial & Taxon query.

The User then defines what images of these 15 species to use to build in real-time a Comparative image table to their selected image states:

As there are only female images available, all male diagnostic images are de-selected.

[cid:image005.png at 01CCDF3C.2F3D4C80]

Step 4.

Within the Comparative image table for 15 returned species, open the Mesoscutum - female character drop box and select the 4 species with yellow vesititure on the mesoscutum.

[cid:image006.png at 01CCDF3C.2F3D4C80]

Step 5.

Examine the female diagnostic characters (dorsal, lateral, head front and mesoscutum images) for the 4 species with yellow vestiture on mesoscutum.

The user can continue to use "key" characters (eg. See below for characters on Head front images) to reduce the number of species with matching taxonomic characters. Any image column with a wheel is available for character-state analysis.

If the user decides their species does not occur within the below 4 species, they can then return to Step 1 and increase the spatial area boundaries for the Geospatial search.

The user is making the decisions and creating their own "boutique" keys which will be different to any other user's interface with this dataset and key.

[cid:image008.png at 01CCDF40.4BDFC940]

> Unfortunately, things that are easier or better for the user are usually more difficult for the author or programmer.

Remember the old saying:  Keys are written by people who do not need them, for people who cannot use them.

Hopefully, with some new ideas for key interfaces, the above phrase may be relegated to the past.

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[cid:image9c61ed.jpg at aec46002.79ff447e]

Melbourne Museum - Major Tourist Attraction 2010 & 2011


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