How to use the tool

Welcome to the SANBI Species Identification Tool App. The purpose of this App is to assist you in the quick identification of different South African TOPS and CITES-listed species including their look-alike species. Please follow the instructions below in order to use the App easily and efficiently.


  • The "Restart" Option
    Where: in the top right hand corner of the screen
    What it does: If you tap this option you will begin a new ID session.
    Please note: You will lose any selections that you may have already chosen if you restart the key.

  • The opening screen:

    When the key starts, you will find yourself on the Features screen. Here you will find a number of different characteristics of the species. You can begin with any feature, but it is recommended that you begin with the most obvious ones that you can describe easily. You have options whether to choose Parts and Derivatives or the whole animal or plant, depending on what you are trying to identify.

  • The “Find Best Feature” option
    Where: In the top right hand corner of the screen
    What it does: When selecting features you can use this option to help you move through the key more quickly. This handy option will open the best feature to select states from in order to provide the fastest identification path, based on the taxa remaining in the key. If you can’t answer the suggested Best feature, tap the “Find Best Feature” option again for the next Best feature available, or continue to select any other feature as desired.

  • How do I find the Entities (taxa)?
    Swipe the screen from right to left to see the matching Entities (taxa) or from left to right to go back to the Features screen. If you have a strong idea that you know what you are looking at, you can always go straight to the entities screen to find the species.

  • How do I see what Features are still available and what features I’ve selected?
    In the top left corner of the screen you will see Features. If you click on the icon to the left it will take you to Status panel where you can see the number Features available for you to select from, the number Features you have already selected and the Entities (Taxa) remaining after your selections. This panel can also be accessed if swipe from the very left of the screen to right.

    You also have the option to Restart and use the Find Best from here.
    Note: This is where you will find additional help on How to Use this key.

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.