An online interactive key project for bryophytes

Matt von at
Mon Nov 8 15:54:06 CST 2004

Dear all [I apologise for any cross-posting],

We are announcing an exciting new initiative in developing online
interactive keys for bryophytes!  This is a collaborative effort between and The Field Museum.  If interested in this project
or if you have any questions please contact me (mvonkonrat at
and I would be very happy to help coordinate this effort.  It is important
to note that participants can retain total control of their own keys, thus
allowing you to update any aspect of your online key, or many of the other
features offered at
Features at Discover Life that are in association with the keys include:
species checklists; construction of simple species pages with images,
distribution, phylogeny, references etc.; interactive maps; an automatic
link to TROPICOS MOST at Missouri Botanical Gardens (Current information on
bryophyte names); and links can be made to other URL's or species pages
that have already been developed.
Two keys presently under construction include: Frullania Species Worldwide
and Liverwort Genera of the World.
For an illustration of how a key operates:
A key to all the species of Frullania is currently being developed.  At
present it is functional for New Zealand, Australia (Tasmania), U.S.A.,
Japan, New Caledonia, Great Britain and Ireland, South Africa, Portugal and
Macronesia, and the Falkland Islands.
Go directlly to the url:
OR navigate to the key from [go to ID Nature Gudies,
then click on Liverworts, Frullania
OR navigate to the key from [then click on Frullania]
The following instructions exemplify how the key works.
1. Click "Region" - Australia (Tasmania).
2. Click on Identify.
You will end up with 11 taxa listed [if you do not click on a region there
will be over 500 names listed]
3. Choose a character [choose "Leaf lobe surface", and click on the
character state PAPILLOSE]
4. Click Identify
You will have a species page of Frullania hattorii von Konrat & Braggins,
including links to other url's.
N.B., You can view any image associated with a character state at an
increased magnification by clicking on the image.  With an interactive key
you can select on any character in any order - and as illustrated above you
may only need to select as few as 1 or 2 characters to achieve an
identification. The ONLY character you MUST select first in the Frullania
key is Region.
The key also offers other features enabling you to compare characters
between species, identifying all taxa with a specific character-state, and
so on.  In my case (the Frullania key), I hope that it may help facilitate
regional and global taxonomic and systematic studies of the genus, and
provide us with an online resource to help communicate with each other.

I am encouraging the bryological community to contact me should they wish
to develop interactive keys for their study organisms - this offers an
exciting resource even if you already have data elsewhere on the web.  You
can also contact Dr John Pickering directly at pick at
I look forward to any suggestions and constructive criticism is always


         Matt von Konrat, Ph.D.
         Collections Manager (Bryophytes and Pteridophytes)
         Department of Botany
         The Field Museum
         1400 South Lake Shore Drive
         Chicago, IL  60605-2496
         Phone: (312) 665-7864
         Fax: 312 665-7158
         Email: mvonkonrat at
         LIIF: Liverwort Internet Information Facility

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