Online Taxonomic Key Application - v1.0.3

Welcome to Online Taxonomic Keys, a joint project of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Royal BC Museum. This project seeks to facilitate the development of, and make readily available, a variety of regional and global identification keys in a format that is concise and easy to use. The information presented is compiled from published and unpublished works from taxonomic specialists worldwide.

Taxonomic keys are important tools used by scientists and other investigators to identify specific organisms based on defining characteristics. Up until the last decade, these keys were most often published as dichotomous keys, in which specimens are identified by choosing from a progressive series of pairs of options until a solution is reached. While dichotomous keys are still universally used, the online arena provides the opportunity to design and use keys based on a character matrix.

The identification keys on this site are based on a character matrix format. Specimens may be identified by selecting one or more character states (columns) for each character (rows). As selections are made a list of possible species identifications will appear at the bottom of the matrix. Clicking on the species name opens an information sheet with more information to help you understand the specimen you’ve identified.

This library of identification keys is a work in progress, and will grow and expand as new keys become available. If you are interested in posting a key on this site, please contact the administrator.

Within many taxonomic groups new species are still being discovered and described. Tools such as genetic analysis can improve our understanding of relationships between different species and groups of organisms. This website attempts to present the most up-to date information available.

To cite the application or a specific taxonomic key, please use the following:

Royal BC Museum Online Taxonomic Key Application. Available from Accessed Date.

Author. "Key Title." Royal BC Museum. Available from"KEY_URL". Accessed Date.