Title

Developing a Multi-Access Key for Identification for West and Central African Snakes

Abstract

Dichotomous keys have been the standard tool for identification of taxa for centuries. However, the effectiveness of conventional dichotomous keys is limited by the sequential nature of the couplets. If necessary information in the sequence is unavailable, the key is unlikely to yield a correct identification. Multi-access keys have the potential to overcome this limitation; however, they come with their own set of limitations. We created two multi-access keys for identification of snakes from West and Central Africa to genus level, using data on 62 genera of snakes across 35 morphological characters in an effort to facilitate snake identification. This poster describes the process and mechanics behind development of our multi-access key, and comments on the benefits and shortcomings of multi-access keys — with an emphasis on the digital format — compared with dichotomous keys in particular and specimen identification in general.

Faculty Sponsor

Kate Jackson

Tracks

poster

Terms of Use

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Location

Cordiner Hall

Presentation Type

Poster

Research Funding Source or OCS Program

National Science Foundation

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Apr 11th, 1:00 PM Apr 11th, 2:00 PM

Developing a Multi-Access Key for Identification for West and Central African Snakes

Cordiner Hall

Dichotomous keys have been the standard tool for identification of taxa for centuries. However, the effectiveness of conventional dichotomous keys is limited by the sequential nature of the couplets. If necessary information in the sequence is unavailable, the key is unlikely to yield a correct identification. Multi-access keys have the potential to overcome this limitation; however, they come with their own set of limitations. We created two multi-access keys for identification of snakes from West and Central Africa to genus level, using data on 62 genera of snakes across 35 morphological characters in an effort to facilitate snake identification. This poster describes the process and mechanics behind development of our multi-access key, and comments on the benefits and shortcomings of multi-access keys — with an emphasis on the digital format — compared with dichotomous keys in particular and specimen identification in general.

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