[Taxacom] Species Pages - where are the online descriptions?

Mike Dallwitz m.j.dallwitz at netspeed.com.au
Sun Feb 1 08:30:01 CST 2009

Roger Hyam wrote:

> I am looking for websites that have good "Species Pages". By species page 
> I mean (and this is my definition) a page that contains a description of 
> the species and not a page that simply lists the nomenclature associated 
> with the acceptance of a name.

_My_ definition of 'species page' or 'fact sheet' is a non-comparative, 
cutesy, or Mickey-Mouse description. You provided some good examples.

If you want comparative descriptions rather than species pages, you can find 
some at http://delta-intkey.com/www/data.htm, e.g.
Attributes shown in bold are diagnostic descriptions, i.e. they are 
(usually) sufficient to separate each taxon from the other taxa in the 
group, with a minimum number of differences (usually 1 or 2). Thus, you 
should be able to confirm an identification by reading just the bold parts.

> You could send the URL of a species page to a student who didn't know what 
> the organism was and they could use it to confirm the identity of a 
> specimen.

Yes, provided that they had a tentative identification. However, this is 
better done via the Intkey interactive keys that accompany the descriptions 
at http://delta-intkey.com. For example, Intkey can suggest characters that 
will tend to lead to _confirmation_ of a tentative identification in the 
shortest number of steps (the 'Separate' option, available in Advanced 
Mode), can show the differences between specified taxa, and can show tiled 
images of specified taxa.

The problem with reading full descriptions to confirm identifications are 
that they tend to be long, and they may not mention attributes that are the 
usual condition in the group, e.g. 
http://delta-intkey.com/angio/www/implicit.htm. The problem with using 
diagnostic descriptions is that some of the attributes may be difficult or 
impossible to observe in the specimen, e.g. flowers or fruits may not be 
available. Both of these problems can be avoided by using the interactive key.

Mike Dallwitz
Contact information: http://delta-intkey.com/contact/dallwitz.htm
DELTA home page: http://delta-intkey.com

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