This identification system has been designed to function automatically, by selecting “best” and alternating this with “prune redundant features”. If you find that a character suggested by the system as “best” is difficult to see, then choose “next best”. However, the essential principle is always to use character states in which you feel confidence. If you are not confident about which state to select of a multi-state character, then it is possible select two states of that character.
An alternative method of operating the system is to select character states that you prefer – that is ones that from your experience have been particularly useful, or ones that are particularly well displayed on the specimen you are examining. However, the design of the software is such that some character states do not become available to the user until only a particular set of species remain to consider. The system is designed for users with limited experience, rather than for experienced specialists.
Many of the character state images have on the top right hand corner a small blue triangle or arrow head. Clicking on this will activate a white arrow to emphasise where to look on the image in front of you.
Above all, inexperienced students should remember that species vary in structure and in color. Therefore, it is particularly difficult to identify single isolated individuals when you do not have any appreciation of the extent of variation that might occur within a species. Identifications are therefore best carried out on population samples that include large and small individuals as well as both sexes.