Identification tools

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Traditional identification keys are for experts
KeyToNature identification tools are adapted for educational purposes


One of the first steps in discovering and understanding biodiversity is to identify the organisms around us. Traditionally, this has been done using paper-printed keys which enable us to correctly name an organism.


Traditional identification keys

Most of them are "difficult" and unsuitable for educational purposes. In classic paper keys, the organisation of the information usually follows the taxonomic scheme: they first lead to families, then to genera, and finally to species. Often the characters used for identifying the families and genera are difficult, and so classical keys are often used by experts only, and the educational sector is not able to adopt them.


KeyToNature identification tools

KeyToNature tools are easier and paper-free identification tools, for use within schools and universities across Europe. They are enriched by many-faceted information and resources for nearly every species and species groups.

KeyToNature has solutions for nearly every user group - primary, secondary, and tertiary education as well as expert communities - and for multiple educational scenarios.


The modules of the identification tools are composed of:

  • Interactive pathways for the identification of organisms (flora, fauna, fungi, etc.), guiding the users on their discovery process with rich textual and media support (hundreds of thousands of high quality digital images).
  • Thousands of hyper-textual documents linked to identification pathways with textual information and images (photographs and drawings) for each step necessary for the identification of an organism.
  • Much additional information about organism descriptions, taxonomy, ecology, distribution, protected status, common names, uses etc.


The KeyToNature identification tools are being developed:

  • with different foci: tools for the identification of all species (and sometimes higher taxa) of a pre-defined area and tools focusing on the identification and localisation of a limited set of species from the same genus in a large area (e.g. a country).
  • for different target groups: simple identification tools adapted for primary education as well as more complex tools, providing in-depth information for higher education students and researchers.


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Types of identification keys
Characteristics of single-access, multi-access and tabular keys.
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Identification tools on different media
Identification tools work on several media, which can be used in different contexts: Internet, DVD and CD-ROMS, PDAs, hard copies etc.
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How to customize identification keys
How schools can obtain customized identification keys, Open Key Editor, the wiki-keys and the jKey Player
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