Help Files

This brief guide outlines some features of the stonefly key to help get you started, however it is by no means comprehensive. Users that want to read the nitty gritty of how the key operates should have a look at the main lucid help files that can be accessed by clicking on the ? at the top of the key. This will open a comprehensive manual to the operation of the lucid player.

What happens if I cannot open the key?

Firstly, have a look in the bottom right hand corner of your screen, next to the clock have you got a small (possibly white) icon that looks like a steaming cup of coffee? If this is missing your problem is a lack of java virtual machine. What you need to do is go to the java website and download this free software. Follow the on-screen instructions, you may have to reboot your computer, and then try to reopen the key. If this fails please report your fault to steve.pawson(at)

What is a multi-access key and how do I use it effectively?

This key to New Zealand stoneflies is a multi-access key. Multi-access keys are a more powerful tool to identify your specimens than a traditional dichotomous key as you can traverse the key using the characters in any order that you choose.

When you open the key you should see that the screen is partitioned into four zones. The top left quadrat indicates the characters available to use when identifying your specimen, the lower left quadrat indicates characters already chosen (note you can unselect these characters as well). The two zones on the right represent the entitites, i.e., a genus or species level identification. The upper right hand zone represent the entities remaining, the lower right zone shows the disgarded species that do not match the characters you have chosen.


So what are all the images and icons that you can see? The characters and entities have images that you can view (by clicking on them), when you open some images you will see that you can then play short macros, using the following buttons . The macros highlight critical areas on the image to focus your attention. When you open most images you will see a little pop up like the one below. If you cannot see the whole image, you can click and drag from the bottom right hand corner to increase the size of the image window.

The two single arrows at the top of this pop-up screen will scroll through all images for that entity/character, the double headed arrow will progress you to the next character/entity and the little 3x3 table will show you thumbnails of all the images for that character/entity.

What to know about images in the keys to genera:

Clicking on the little that you can see next to each of the genus names in the right hand zones of the key will direct you to another webpage. The icon opens one of two types of webpages:

  1. If you are in the generic key, i.e., trying to identify your species to a genus, clicking on this icon will open a second key, that enables you to distinguish between species within that genus.
  2. Within species keys the icon will then open a factsheet on that species. The factsheet provides a rich source of information about individual species including, images (where available), distribution maps, raw distribution tables, original descriptions, ecological notes and links to further reading.

Note: In the adult and larval generic keys, if the genus is monotypic, i.e., one species the icon will directly open the factsheet and no additional key to species is given.

So what is the fastest way to navigate the key?

Rather than having to proceed in a prescriptive fashion through couplets (as in a dichotomous key), a multi-access key allows you to use any character as a starting point. This is highly advantageous as your specimen may not be the correct sex for some characters, or it may be damaged missing the vital parts required for a dichotomous key. So given the choice of any character, how should you decide what is the best character to begin with?

You will see a few options at the top of the key, check these out and have a look through them. As a hint, hover your mouse over each icon and it should give you a brief description of what it does. If you look under features, you can select "Find best", this will find the character that best splits the remaining entities, i.e., it is the most powerful character to use. Once you have selected your choice for this character you can then use "find best" to select the next best character to descriminate between the remaining entitites. If you don't want to have to keep selecting find best, use the function further down the list called automate, this will automatically select the best character for you each time.

If you find a problem with the key please contact us at Steve.Pawson(at) and we will endeavour to find a solution. If you wish to submit any images we will gratefully accept high quality images for the key or accompanying factsheets, particularly for species that currently lack specimens.


This key and its associated factsheets are the result of a large amount of work by Stephen Pawson and Ian McLellan (FNZES) it was made possible by the assistance of many people. We would like to acknowledge the assistance of those that allowed us access to collections in their care, including; John Early and Rosemary Gilbert (Auckland War Memorial Museum), Grace Hall (NZ Arthopod Collection), Dr Ian Henderson (Private Collection, including copies of his specimen database), Phil Sirvid and Ricardo Palma (Te Papa), Simon Pollard (Canterbury Museum), Cody Fraser (Otago Museum) and Brian Patrick (Central Stories). Peter Zwick kindly translated original material from German to English, Jon Sullivan assisted with developing some R-code to sort database records and John Thyne helped to modify GIS scripts to allow mapping of species distributions.

A special mention is required of Brian Patrick who has allowed us to include photographs he collected over many years, without which the key would not be so lavishly illustrated. Furthermore Brian has been the most prolific collector of New Zealand stoneflies and his records form a significant portion of the specimen database.

We gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance of the Terrestrial and Freshwater Biodiversity Information System (TFBIS) Programme towards the preparation of this data/base and identification key. The TFBIS Programme is funded by the Government to help to achieve the goals of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, and is administered by the Department of Conservation.