|1. System Requirements
In order to run the key on your computer you must have Java Virtual Machine
(JVM) v1.4.2 or greater installed. This is a free program and is available
to download at: http://www.java.com/
To run the JVM your computer must have one of the following operating
o Pentium 166MHz
o HD: 75MB
o RAM: 64MB
o OS X 10.2.6 or greater
o HD: 51MB
o RAM: 128MB
o A flavour of Linux that supports J2RE, such as: Red Hat 7.3/8.0 SuSE
8.0, Ubuntu etc.
o Pentium 166MHz
o HD: 85MB
o RAM: 64MB
Solaris OS: 7, 8
o RAM: 128MB
o HD: Up to 70MB
2. Key Interface
The interface of the interactive key is divided into four panels. The
two panels on the left, titled "Features Available" (Fig.1)
and "Features Chosen" (Fig.3) pertain to characters and character
states. The two panels on the right, titled "Entities Remaining"
(Fig. 2) and "Entities Discarded" (Fig.4) pertain to fern taxa.
Figure 1. Features Available.
Figure 2. Entities Remaining.
Figure 3. Features Chosen.
Figure 4. Entities Discarded.
3. Using the Key
Characters are arranged into large groupings and are divided into subsets.
Clicking the toggle button allows
for subsets of characters within these groupings to appear. For example,
clicking on the toggle for the group titled "Blade/lamina (leaf blade)"
reveals characters that pertain to the blade such as "Blade division"
(Fig. 5). Each character contains two or more character states. To choose
a character state click once on the image thumbnail, a black line will
appear around the border of the image to indicate a selection has been
made (Fig. 5). To deselect a character state click the image a second
time and the black line disappears, indicating that character state is
no longer selected.
3.1 Illustrated Feature Notes
If you come across a character or character state that is unfamiliar,
you may click once in the lower right corner of the image thumbnail to
reveal a full-size image along with additional images and definitions
to terms (Fig. 5).
3.2 Multiple Character States
If you are uncertain about a certain character state you have the option
to either 1) skip the character or 2) choose multiple character states.
An example is when you are uncertain about the blade shape of your specimen.
You may select as may character states (i.e. triangular, lanceolate) that
you feel are appropriate to your specimen in question. To choose multiple
characters states click the image of each character state you are uncertain
** If you are uncertain about any character state it is important to either
skip the character or choose multiple (or all) character states in order
to not discard possible taxa
Subsets are groups of characters that allow you to restrict the amount
of characters used in making identifications. To choose a subset to work
within, press the "Subsets" button and a panel will appear.
If you would like to work only with morphological characters, check the
white box next to the heading "Morphological Characters".
**Using this feature is highly recommended if you are new to fern identification
and/or will be using the "Best" feature (see below)
3.4 Fact Sheets
Fact sheets include species descriptions, vernacular names, distribution,
and additional images. Fact sheets may be accessed at any point during
the identification process. To access the fact sheets, click the icon
to the right of the taxon image (Fig. 5). This will automatically open
a new window in your browser with the fact sheet for the taxon.
3.5 Restarting the Key
You may restart the key at any point during the identification process
by clicking the "Restart" button
Figure 5. Interface showing selection of character state and pop-up
window with definition.
Figure 6. Interface showing the location of a fact sheet link.
4. Making Identification Easier
Making an identification can be easy if you first familiarize yourself
with the specimen in question and with the characters available within
the key. You should first use characters that are the easiest for you
to distinguish (i.e. blade division, soral shape). Another tip is to start
with distinctive characters about your specimen. For example, your specimen
may have an aquatic habitat or there may be proliferations somewhere on
Lucid keys offer several methods to make identification easier:
4.1 Best Feature
The use of the "Best" feature is recommended
when you are unfamiliar with identification of ferns or are in a position
where you are unsure what characters to choose. When the "Best"
button is clicked the key will automatically choose the character that
will most efficiently split the remaining taxa.
Clicking the "Next Best" button and the "Previous Best" button allows you to
navigate through the key using automatically selected characters.
4.2 Shortcuts Feature
By clicking the "Shortcuts" button you will receive a list of
characters that, when answered, will provide a list of unique characters
that can help make identification quicker. This feature can be used at
any point during the identification process. For example, if you only
have five taxa remaining, but are unsure of what character to choose next
you may click the "shortcuts" button and get a list of possible
unique character states of your specimen. All taxa that remain do not
necessarily have a shortcut character and thus, no shortcuts will appear
in the panel.
4.3 Prune Redundant Feature
As you continue with the identification process some characters and character
states will become redundant for identifying your specimen. When the "Prune
Redundant Features" button is pressed, all characters and character
states that are not relevant to the identification of the remaining taxa
will be eliminated along with characters and character states that pertain
all the taxa remaining (thus useless for deciphering taxa).
5. Additional Features
The lucid key has many other features available to assist in identification
and to further customize the key interface. Several of these features
are listed below, but you may learn more about other features by clicking
the "Help" button.
5.1 Differences Function
The "Differences" function works by determining the characters
that differentiate one taxon from another. This function is useful when
you have several taxa remaining, but are unsure of additional characters
to select. To use the "Differences" function start by either
1) clicking the "Differences" button or 2) selecting the taxa
you would like to compare and then clicking the "Differences"
button. The latter method allows for the determination of differences
only for selected taxa, whereas the former will calculate the differences
for all taxa remaining. One the "Differences" feature is selected
a window will appear with two panels. The top panel lists all characters
that distinguish the taxa selected. When a character is selected from
the top panel, the bottom panel will display the character state(s) of
the selected taxa.
5.2 Why Discarded
While you are selecting character states you will notice taxa being eliminated.
These eliminated taxa are retained in the "Entities Discarded"
frame of the interface (Fig. 4). If you are curious about why a taxon
was eliminated, select the taxon's name and click the "Why Discarded"
button. A popup window will appear with a list of characters that you
chose and what the score is for that taxon.