[Taxacom] (Fwd) Dichotomous key software

Les Watson leswatson at westnet.com.au
Thu Aug 31 04:13:44 CDT 2006

Michael J. Sharkey wrote:
 > I think that one of the most serious problems with interactive keys
 > ..... is that most are not anonymously reviewed, as are most published
 > keys.

There may be something in this, but reviewers of taxonomic publications
often do a lousy job on printed keys. I recently disposed of a large
file of examples, formerly used for teaching purposes. Among them was
a taxonomic treatment from a "respectable", refereed journal,
accompanied by reviews of it submitted by a class of my Honours
undergraduates as part of their degree examination. Most of them
rightly remarked that the key was useless in the absence of fruiting
material (etc.), criticized ambiguous wording, and expressed disgust
at incompletely contrasting couplets; but like the professional
referees, none of them had noticed that the key dried up in the
middle, so that the second half was inaccessible if you started at the
beginning. At least SOME of the familiar absurdities become harder to
achieve even in printed keys, if these are generated by computer ....


Les Watson
10, Maitland Avenue
Little Grove, Albany,         Email: leswatson at westnet.com.au
WA 6330, Australia            Phone: +61 (8) 98 44 4398

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