FSC Identikit Species Comparisons
Megabunus diadema

Harvestmen of Britain and Ireland

An interactive guide from the Field Studies Council


There are some 30 different species of harvestmen (Opiliones) in the UK. This interactive guide is a resource for anyone who wants to identify a harvestman and/or learn about the features that can be used to separate the different taxa in the field.

The tools are currently optimised for large-screen formats. We are working on a suite of tools for small screens, e.g. mobile phones, for 2018.

Species accounts & images

To read about, or look at images, of a particular species, go to the species accounts page.

Click on the name of any taxon to read about its identification features and its field characteristics. Use the image control to scroll through images of that species (mostly supplied from the comprehensive collection of Paul Richards). Move your mouse over the images to see the browsing controls (use a long-press on touch devices). You can use your mouse wheel to zoom an image and recentre by dragging.

The keys

The keys presented here are not traditional dichotomous keys, but rather interactive multi-access keys (sometimes called polyclaves or lateral keys). They allow you to enter the characters that describe your harvestman without dictating which characters you must use or the order in which to specify them. Here we present three different multi-access keys, but actually they all work in exactly the same way and give the same results, the differences are in the way they visualise those results.

A good place to start is the single column key which displays a lot of information on how each of the species 'scores' against the character values you specify.

But the keys aren't just useful for trying to identify a specimen, they are a way that you can explore and visualise the knowledge-base that lies behind the key; just by playing with it, you can learn about which species have character states in common and which ones differ.

Direct comparisons

Another way to explore the knowledge-base behind the interactive tools is to use direct comparisons.
This tool allows you to display the knowledge-base character states of two or more species side-by-side and colour codes them to highlight the similarities and differences. You can also use this tool to display images of different species side by side.

The FSC Identikit

All the interactive tools on this web application are provided by the FSC Identikit. This website is a lightweight web app providing an interface to the FSC Identikit, which is itself being driven by a the knowledge-base written by Paul Richards and Rich Burkmar.

The FSC Identikit is an open-source project - originally an output of the FSC's Tomorrow's Biodiversity project funded by Esmee Fairbairn between 2013 and 2017 inclusive. Esmee Fairbairn provided extension funding for 2018 to roll the Identikit into the new HLF-funded FSC BioLinks project which runs from 2018 to 2022 inclusive. FSC Identikit will therefore be supported and developed by FSC until at least 2022.

Watch the video below for a tour of this website and its features. You can play the video at 'fullscreen' size by clicking on the fullscreen icon in the bottom right once playing. Alternatively you can find this video on our YouTube channel.

Rich Burkmar
Biodiversity Projects Team
Field Studies Council
Head Office
Montford Bridge
United Kingdom.

By email: [email protected]