Phycokey Logic and Structure
For anyone attempting to identify organisms but with scant exposure to morphological terminology, comparison of images is quicker than learning the abstruse terminology of most dichotomous (bifurcate) keys.
Phycokey includes pages with multiple choices for comparison with an object found on a microscope slide, usually at x200 or x400, with bright field illumination available on standard student microscopes. Occasionally polarized illumination is used
'Directory' pages have "mouse rollover" collages of thumbnail images, from classes to genera of algae, amoebae, non-photosynthetic flagellates, ciliates, fragments of other organisms, and "anomolies" (non-protist organisms (such as aquatic plants and animals), biogenic fragments, and abiogenic micro-objects commonly encountered such as crystals and bubbles).
Phyla (Divisions): Under the influence of Alan Brook I don't accept that the 18+ recognized classes need to be lumped into phyla, at least until clarified molecular dictates.
Classes: The top taxonomic level recognized in Phycokey.
Orders and Families: Listed on each genus description page. Useful for taxonomic completeness and of interest to taxonomists, but generally unimportant in identifying a sample organism to level of genus.
Genera: The "genus" page includes images of individual organisms, with an explanatory text that does include "abstruse" terminology, along with notes about habitat, morphologically similar genera, and references to texts and occasionally to articles of special interest. Each thumbnail image can be “mouse clicked” to see a larger image on the genus image page.
Species: There has been no attempt to distinguish species, although species names are included where known. It seems to me that with so many known synonyms as the genus level, that sorting out species names is a perilous journey, best left to monographers, and unnecessary for an introduction to the protists.
Phycokey is an open-ended, ongoing project that is expected to evolve as new genera, species, and images are acquired or described. To this end we invite others to submit images (along with appropriate information) for inclusion and complete acknowledgment.