[Taxacom] Thanking the acronyms and Wikipedia

Mary Barkworth Mary.Barkworth at usu.edu
Fri Mar 4 18:49:39 CST 2011

Last week I commented that I would like it if GBIF made the distribution map more evident. I have now put up the document that lead the request. It is at http://herbarium.usu.edu/IMRkeys/SporebearingIMR2.pdf. Others can be accessed through http://herbarium.usu.edu/IMRkeys/KeyChoices.html. The purpose of the pdf documents is to provide my students with keys that reflect current taxonomic concepts and include the plants we grow in the greenhouse because I teach while snow is on the ground. The horticulture students are appreciative of the inclusion of cultivated and indoor plants.

To provide students with free access to additional information, I am embedding links in them - to GBIF to show the global distribution, to EoL to provide information about the genera, to the Intermountain Biota web site to provide, thanks to Ed Gilbert, a description from FNA plus some images, and to Wikipedia for information about the families and genera. At present, only the Spore-bearing pdf has all the links and references in. None of these resources is fully developed at this point. There is value in telling students that it takes a lot of people contributing, usually for free, a lot of time to develop the kinds of resource we would all like to have, preferably yesterday.

The region is well-served by an excellent regional flora, the Intermountain Flora by A. Cronquist, A.H. Holmgren, N.H.Holmgren, J.L. Reveal, and  P.K. Holmgren which contains line drawings and descriptions for all the native and naturalized species  but, having been published over several years, some of the treatments reflect rather old family and generic concepts. In addition, it  is covered by the Flora of North America and A Utah Flora. All three references are excellent in their own way. The approach I am adopting provides students keys that reflect current taxonomy and access to the wealth of free information being made available by the acronyms but also draws their attention to the excellent print resources (or will when I have time to add the additional information), without which I could not have created the pdf documents. But the GBIF link would be so much more interesting if one could see the map without scrolling down the page.

The directed choice keys are lifted from the pdf file and made interactive with Phoenix, a program developed by the Centre for Biodiversity Information Technology at the University of Queensland (thank you). Some students feel more comfortable clicking a mouse than reading down the page. They are much younger than me. One day the Phoenix keys will have pictures embedded in them and be linked to informative pages, at which point they will have value beyond the pdf keys; at present they really do not. But first I need to prepare a key to the dicot families - and at least some of their genera.

Enjoy the weekend folks.

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