Linking Taxon Descriptions to Keys

Identification keys are useful devices for identifying taxa. They are widely used by botanists, much less so by taxonomists in other groups. For example, floras routinely include dichotomous keys to the taxa they treat. These not help aid identification repeated use helps users become familiar with the taxa concerned and the characters used to identify them.

Keys are not, however, always easy to use. The differentiating characteristics may be difficult to understand, the taxon being identified may not be in the key and, of course, either or both the key writer and key user may make an error. Consequently, one must check one’s identification. Linking Symbiota taxon pages to names in an interactive key makes this easier and hence, more likely to occur. These instructions are about linking taxon pages to names in keys presented using KeyBase (

KeyBase software enables displaying a dichotomous key on the web in different formats. The web site design makes KeyBase really simple to use, so simple that you may find instructions unnecessary.  Nevertheless, instructions on using KeyBase are presented on the next page.

Linking taxon descriptions to taxa in KeyBase

This process is simple.

  1. Create a 2-column csv file. Column 1: taxon name (without author); Column 2: url of taxon page. Do not add headers. This is your items file.
  2. Go to the development page in KeyBase (see instruction for KeyBase) and click on “Items”. When there, click on “Upload items” and upload the file you just created.

One can, of course, also insert a link to the key to lower taxa in the description on a taxon page. See, for example, the link to the key to species of Crotalaria in Somaliland and Somalia that is at the end of the description of Crotalaria: