Title

Assembling a Multi-Access Key for Identification of Genera of Central and West African Snakes,

Presenter

Eric Hsu

Abstract

The dichotomous key has been used by biologists to identify organisms for centuries. However, the linear nature of a dichotomous key means that if a data point is missing at any point in the series of questions, accurate identification becomes very unlikely. This limitation can be overcome by the use of multi-access keys: using all available characteristics to narrow down possibilities. While multi-access keys have significant advantages over dichotomous keys, they come with a set of new limitations—from software becoming outdated to restricted accessibility in the field—which hinders their use. I explore both the advantages and disadvantages multi-access keys have with relation to my work in constructing one for the snakes of Central and West Africa, while addressing other fundamental issues in the identification of organisms.

Faculty Sponsor

Kate Jackson

Sponsor Department/Programs

Biology

Tracks

Animal Kingdom

Location

Science 100

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Research Funding Source or OCS Program

This project was funded by the NSF Research Grant to Kate Jackson

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Apr 19th, 11:30 AM Apr 19th, 11:45 AM

Assembling a Multi-Access Key for Identification of Genera of Central and West African Snakes,

Science 100

The dichotomous key has been used by biologists to identify organisms for centuries. However, the linear nature of a dichotomous key means that if a data point is missing at any point in the series of questions, accurate identification becomes very unlikely. This limitation can be overcome by the use of multi-access keys: using all available characteristics to narrow down possibilities. While multi-access keys have significant advantages over dichotomous keys, they come with a set of new limitations—from software becoming outdated to restricted accessibility in the field—which hinders their use. I explore both the advantages and disadvantages multi-access keys have with relation to my work in constructing one for the snakes of Central and West Africa, while addressing other fundamental issues in the identification of organisms.