History of rain forest key
This project had its genesis with the key by Hyland in 1971, which covered 584 taxa of rain forest trees in north Queensland. The character set consisted of 48 bark features and 45 leaf features, and the key was a polyclave or card key on the then standard 80-column computer cards.
Eleven years later, the Revised Key by Hyland in 1982 covered 799 taxa for the same bark and leaf features, with the addition of family and geographic area. This key reached the limits of the currently available technology, with the 799 taxa filling all available positions on the computer cards.
Eleven years later again, the computer-based key by Hyland and Whiffin in 1993 covered 1056 taxa of trees of all Australian tropical rain forests. This consisted of two volumes, a leaf atlas, and computer-based keys in both MS-DOS and Macintosh formats. In addition to the bark and leaf features, additional features from flowers, fruits and seedlings were included.
The latest version of the key will be available shortly. This results from the combined efforts of Bernie Hyland, Trevor Whiffen, David Christophel, Bruce Gray, Rebel Elick and Andrew Ford. This new version is a Windows based key, covering approx 1750 taxa of the rain forest trees and shrubs, from all Australian tropical rain forests.
Data in the rain forest key
The specimen-based data underlying the rain forest key has been derived
from over 15,000 collections held in the CSIRO Atherton Herbarium. Each
species is scored for all character sets - bark, leaf, flower, fruit and
seedling (134 characters all together). The data represents the culmination
of 30 years study by Australia's leading research group on Australian tropical
rain forest flora.
or for more information visit the Department of Botany at La Trobe University