Pest Thrips of the World: An Identification and Information System
Gerald Moritz and Laurence Mound
CSIRO / ANIC (Australia: Canberra, 2000-2001)

Taxonomists have two primary objectives: recognising species, and producing classifications. Although both of these are useful to non-taxonomists, the first was particularly emphasised during a recent visit to the ANIC by developmental biologist, Gerald Moritz, from the University of Halle-Wittenberg. Together with the author, a data-matrix for 175 pest species of thrips worldwide was constructed, involving 350 character states, and a LucID identification key generated. The next phase of this project is to incorporate more than 1500 photomicrographs into the system, together with biological information. The product is targeted at economic biologists, but the range of illustrations will be valuable for teaching as well as for research taxonomists. The finished CD-ROM will be available commercially in time for an international conference of thrips and tospovirus workers in July 2001. The LucID software, developed in Brisbane, enables a taxonomist to generate such information systems rapidly - the pest thrips data matrix was compiled and the key generated within 10 days. For non-taxonomists the keys are exceptionally intuitive, indeed lucid. All character states and all taxa are displayed on-screen in two boxes at the same time. The user 'drags and drops' a character state of their choice from one box to a third, and species without that state then move to a fourth box. Alternatively, the computer will assess the shortest route through the data and suggest a 'best' character, or even permit a 'bingo' choice for species with unique attributes. A system like this, but including only 85 species and 550 colour pictures, was produced last year for AQIS, and the number of thrips species their staff now identify annually has increased by more than 300%, demonstrating a close correlation between customer satisfaction and taxonomic lucidity!
(ANIC News 16 (2000), 10: Laurence Mound: Taxonomic Lucidity).