Best Practice Guidelines for making an Identification
Familiarity with the specimen
First, become familiar with the characteristics of the specimen you wish to identify. If you are also familiar with the Lucid key that you will use, then you may already know many of the specimen’s characteristics. Briefly reviewing these before you start will make it easier for you to proceed through the identification.
Note and use distinctive features
In any key, some taxa may possess particularly distinctive features. Use of these may allow the taxon to be keyed out in a very few steps. At the very least, starting with particularly distinctive or striking features for the first character states selected may quickly reduce the list of Entities Remaining.
Answer easy features first
Browse the list of Features Available and address easy features first. The principles of dichotomous keys, in which the couplets must be answered in a preset order, are very familiar to most key users who often automatically apply these principles to a matrix key. Although Lucid3 lists the features of a key in an initial sequence in the opening window, this does not mean that the features must be selected in that order. You can select any feature from any position in the list.
[However, note that in some keys, where positive dependencies are used, you may be forced to answer specific questions before others become available.]
Most Lucid3 keys will have a wide variety of features, ranging from those dealing with obvious and simple features to those dealing with features that are minute, obscure or difficult to interpret. Always start by browsing the list of Features Available for obvious features that you can quite quickly answer, as opposed to getting stuck on the first one. Lucid is designed to overcome problems associated with difficult and obscure features.
Choosing multiple states
Always choose multiple states (more than one state of a feature) if you are uncertain which state is the correct one to choose for a particular specimen. Lucid is designed to allow you to choose as many states as you require from any one feature. Within the program’s logic, these states will be connected by an “or” link. This will cause Lucid to search for all taxa with the any of the states you select. As a general rule, if you are unsure which of two or more states your specimen has, then choose them all: that way, you can be sure that your target taxon will remain in Entities Remaining.
Checking the result
Once you have made a preliminary identification, check the other information (such as notes, descriptions or images) provided for the taxon. Getting a possible name for a taxon from a key is not the end of an identification. You may have made errors, or you may have a taxon that is not in the key. In these cases, the key may have provided you with the wrong name. The associated information will often give you a good indication as to whether the answer is correct.