The interactive key was designed using Lucid3 software and is quite different from a traditional dichotomous key. The user is recommended to consult the Best Practices on occasion to pick up new tips and tricks for using the interactive keys.
Operating system: Windows 2000 (SP3)/XP/Vista, Mac OSX 10.4 or greater, Linux (that supports J2RE), Solaris 7-10. (The key will run on Windows 98/ME/NT4 but these platforms are no longer supported.)
System memory: 256MB RAM (512MB or greater recommended).
Web browser: Java-enabled web browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, or Safari.
Note: You may need to adjust your browser settings to allow pop-ups and active content (this particularly applies to Internet Explorer) when viewing the key as a Java applet.
Hard drive space: 150MB if running tool from hard drive (excluding space required for Java Runtime Environment and web browser).
Software: The Lucid3 interactive key will run embedded within a web browser as a Java Applet Player. Java Runtime Environment (JRE) version 1.4.2 (1.5 or greater recommended) must be installed on your computer for the Lucid3 Applet Player to run successfully.
- The upper left window Characters Available lists the identification characters and character states to choose from.
- The upper right window Taxa Remaining lists the available taxa.
- The lower left window Characters Chosen lists which character states are currently selected.
- The lower right window Taxa Discarded lists the taxa that have been discarded based the characters that have been selected.
- Genus: allows the user to jump to the species of a particular genus by discarding all other genera.
- Subfamily: allows the user to jump to the genera and species of a subfamily by discarding all those in other subfamilies.
- Use geographic filters: allows the user to constrain the list of remaining taxa to those that occur in the available regions (currently only Nearctic, Pacific Islands and Europe) and those that were previously intercepted in a particular country (currently only USA).
- Diagnosis: leads to morphological characters traditionally used to identify ant species.
Navigating the key
Character and taxa trees can be expanded by clicking the "+" next to the grouping character or taxon. Character states are selected by clicking once on the state name or image thumbnail. Clicking the state a second time deselects the state. As character states are selected, the entities that do not have those features will be moved into the Taxa Discarded panel.
All taxa are illustrated with specimen images, and nearly all character states are illustrated with line drawings. Clicking on the image thumbnail (or image icon if thumbnails are not displayed) brings up a larger size image and gives the user access to the full image gallery for the character state or taxa , if available. All species are also linked to their own species page. Clicking the small grey page icon next to the taxa thumbnail will open the species page.
If unsure of the correct state of a given feature, it is often better to try a different feature before selecting a state you are unsure about. However, the key has been coded to accommodate common mistakes and features with states that may vary. For more hints on navigating the keys, see the Best Practices page.