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Author Info

Nancy Bellafante

Nancy Bellafante
Librarian for Undergraduate Learning; Interim Liaison Librarian for Biology & Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science
Hagerty Library, Room 125


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Identification Keys

  1. Finding Books
  2. Finding Articles
  3. Handbooks and Encyclopedias
  4. Flora
  5. Fauna
  6. Geologic
  7. Interactive Keys (Downloadable Software)

Finding Books

Finding Articles

  • Biological Sciences - ELECTRONIC An interdisciplinary database that offers abstracts and citations to a wide range of research in biomedicine, biotechnology, zoology and ecology, and some aspects of agriculture and veterinary science.   Use "Identification Keys" as a descriptor.

Handbooks and Encyclopedias

  • American Insects : A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico - PRINT Hagerty Reference  QL474 .A76 2000
  • Birds of North America - PRINT Hagerty Reference  QL681 .A625 2001
  • A Dictionary of Entomology - PRINT Hagerty Reference  QL462.3 .G67 2001
  • Encyclopedia of Minerals - PRINT Hagerty Reference  QE355 .R6
  • Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia - PRINT Hagerty Reference  QL7 .G7813 2004
  • Marine mammals of the world : a comprehensive guide to their identification - PRINT Hagerty 2nd Floor QL713.2 .J44 2008
  • A manual of mammalogy : with keys to families of the world - PRINT Hagerty 2nd Floor  QL703 .M375 2001
  • Turtles of the United States and Canada - PRINT Hagerty 2nd Floor  QL666.C5 E76 1994



  • Arthropods - WWW Invertebrate animals such as insects, arachnids, and crustaceans.
  • Beetles (Tiger) - WWW Information for the identifying all North American and most Central American tiger beetle species and subspecies.
  • Birds - WWW Visual Key for Bird Identification. Covers Waterfowl & Marshland Birds, Predatory Birds, Upland Ground Birds, Perching & Tree-Clinging and Song Birds.
  • Bird Calls - WWW A guide to identify sounds made by birds including sound files.
  • Corals - WWW Polychotomous identification key for common Florida zooxanthellate corals.
  • Fish - WWW Freshwater fish of South Carolina.
  • Insects - WWW Insects - WWW Expansive sites on insects. Worth exploring.
  • Insects (Singing) - WWW These are Crickets, Katydids, and Cicadas.
  • Lizards - WWW Part of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Amphibian and Reptile Atlas.
  • Moths - WWW Key to the superfamilies of the Lepidoptera with special reference to North and South Dakota.
  • Pond Life Identification Kit - WWWA simple guide to small and microscopic pond life, with links to Micscape resources.
  • Snakes - WWW Part of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Amphibian and Reptile Atlas.
  • Turtles - WWW Part of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Amphibian and Reptile Atlas.
  • Spiders - WWW Spiders - WWW
  • Multispecies Sites
  • FishBase - WWW 29300 species worldwide.
  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection - WWW These files are all keys for the identification of various kinds of organisms. They were created by or for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, or its predecessor agencies.
  • Cortland Herpetology Connection - WWW New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Amphibian and Reptile Atlas.


  • Fossils - WWW If you don't know what kind of fossil you have, this site from the Kentucky Geological Survey was compiled to try and point you in the right direction. It provides both descriptive and shape keys.
  • Rocks - WWW Identification key to a wide range of rock types.
  • Rocks (Metamorphic) - WWW A colorful simple quick key to metamorphic rocks.

Interactive Keys (Downloadable Software)

  • An interactive key is an interactive computer program in which the user enters attributes (character-state values) of the specimen. The program eliminates taxa whose attributes do not match those of the specimen. This process is continued until only one taxon remains. The taxon attributes are usually stored as a characters-by-taxa ‘matrix’.
  • Intkey - WWWDeveloped by CSIRO as part of DELTA ((DEscription Language for TAxonomy) a flexible and powerful method of recording taxonomic descriptions for computer processing. It has been adopted as a standard for data exchange by the International Taxonomic Databases Working Group. Datasets for use with Intkey.
  • Meka - WWW MEKA (pronounced "mecca") is an interactive Multiple-Entry Key Algorithm to enable rapid identification of biological specimens. Three keys to flowering plant groups are included in this self-extracting archive:
    • "WOODY" Key to Wetland Woody Plants of North America by John T. Kartesz, Director, Biota of North America Program, North Carolina Botanic Garden, Chapel Hill. This key is copyrighted by Dr. Kartesz and should not be distributed further without his permission. He may be reached by telephone at 919-962-0578. This is a draft version. Please report any inaccuracies to Dr. Kartesz. The Woody key was developed through funding provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wetlands Inventory. Please contact Porter B. Reed for further information.
    • "ANGIOFAM" Key to Angiosperm (Flowering Plant) Families of the World by Bertel Hansen and Knud Rahn of the Botanical Museum and Library of the University of Copenhagen. The copyright is held by the Natural History Museum, London.
    • "TROPIFAM" Key to Woody Plant Families of the Neotropics by Donald R. Simpson and David Janos of the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago.
  • A Comparison of Interactive Identification Programs - WWW by M.J. Dallwitz

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