Starting from July, 1, 2001, ITALIC can automatically produce identification keys, complete with colour images, distributional maps, decriptions and ecological notes. The keys are generated, starting from a new database of morpho-anatomical and chemical data, by an original software developed by S. Martellos at the University of Trieste. Users will be able to order keys "a la carte". They can specify any combination of morpho-anatomical, distributional and ecological data (incl. ecological indicator values) to define a set of species (e.g. foliose sorediate lichens) which are likely to occur in a "virtual habitat" (e.g. isolated trees in an orchard near Trieste). The key will contain only the selected species present in that virtual habitat.
At the moment the archive includes all epiphytic lichens of Italy (excluding Usnea) for a total of 732 species, and all the terricolous species, for a total of 410 species, plus some hundred saxicolous species.
The procedure for allowing users to directly ask for a key via Internet is still under development. To give an idea of the kind of product which can be obtained from ITALIC, here is an example of a small illustrated key:
KEY to the foliose lichens which are likely to occur on isolated trees in an orchard near Trieste, complete with colour images and distribution maps (pdf format, 1,829 Mb)
Now available, without illustrations are the
These keys are meant as tools for the identification of the terricolous lichens of Italy. They include 419 species which normally occur on mineral or organic soil, or on terricolous bryophytes. A few species which were only recently found in Italy are not yet included. They will be included as soon as the present version of ITALIC will be updated (within the end of 2002). The nomenclature strictly follows that adopted in the present version of ITALIC. Rather heavy nomenclatural changes are unfortunately foreseen in the next version.
In order to render the keys as user-friendly as possible, the set of species has been split into four subsets on the basis of the pH of the soil (acid versus basic - siliceous vs. calcareous) and of altitude (below treeline and above the beech belt). This subdivision was based on two parameters automatically invoked from ITALIC: 1) the indicator value for pH (5 states, from 1, very acid, to 5, basic), 2) The altitudinal range in Italy (5 states from 1, Mediterranean, to 5, Alpine). In all cases a broad "buffer" was accounted for: the "subneutral" value and the "montane" vegetation belt (i.e. the beech belt) are included in all keys.
The four subsets contain an average of ca. 210 species each, which should render identification much more easy. Some smaller keys for special environments are in preparation.
Further keys will be available in the next future.
The procedures and the database are under continuous updating and improvement. We would be grateful for critical notes on these prototypes.