Unité Mixte de Recherche - botAnique et bioinforMatique de l'Architecture des Plantes

CIRAD - TA A51 / PS2 - 34398 Montpellier cedex 5 - France
Tel.: +33 4 67 61 71 87
FAX: +33 4 67 61 56 68


A Multimedia Approach to Computer Aided Identification

for Capacity Building in Taxonomy



IDAO Screen shots 


The difficulty encountered by non-botanists when identifying species using standard flora is centered around three major constraints, namely:

  • The ability to identify the species without its flowers or before it flowers;
  • The use of dichotomous key, which cannot tolerate any error and imposes the choice as well as the order of questions; and
  • The use of technical terms not understood by the non-specialists.


click here

As part of an open-source software initiative, OSCAR web version was developed for Web standards compliant browsers.
It was successfully tested with Mozilla Firefox 1.5 (& above) and Opera 9 (& above).
The web version is not yet Internet Explorer compatible due to technical problems of IE.

In order to minimize and resolve these constraints, the identification
system uses a graphical system which reconstitutes the plants using images.
This method has several advantages:

  • It only uses drawings instead of technical jargon.
  • It provides users the freedom to choose the character that needs to
    be described.
  • Missing information or data are permitted, thus allowing for the
    identification of incomplete samples.
  • Certain level of observational errors are also tolerated.
  • At each step of the identification process, a probability of resemblance is calculated for each species.
    Thus species are sorted by decreasing order of similarity.
  • At each step and moment, users could access the photos, the description, and the botanical illustrations of the species.
  • In case users encounter doubt in the choice of characters (for description), they could ask the program for the most pertinent one.
  • If the probability of a species identified is less than 100 percent, the program indicates the characters that contain bad description.
  • Descriptions of the species can be available through Internet Website with any type of browser.
  • The program being multilingual, it caters to a larger section of people.
  • All the technical terms used are highlighted and at a click, an hypertext illustrated definition is accessible.
  • Distribution of the species with GIS capabilities

A tool for :

  • Young scientist training and capacity building
  • Species identification for biodiversity studies
  • Information dissemination

Contact Information

Scientific Questions: pierre.grard@cirad.fr
        General Information: contact-amap@cirad.fr


Send mail to contact-amap@cirad.fr with questions or comments about this web site.