Biologists use a dichotomous key to identify both plants and animals. Such keys include minute details about shapes and sizes of the parts of organisms that are being keyed out. Most bats that are found in the Maryland are not difficult to sort and identify into basic types.
To identify a specific Maryland bat, it is necessary to recognize the features that distinguish one species from another. Before you can give a bat a name, you must first sort features of the organism into groups of similar and dissimilar types.
Once you are able to assign a name to a bat, you can begin to see the variation among the different species and distinguish one from another. Learning to use a Dichotomous Key is the first step in understanding the diversity of life. Following the dichotomous key for bat identification step-by-step, compare features of the bat you have chosen with the descriptions given, narrowing your choices until you determine identification.
Dichotomous means having two equal parts. A key is a tool used to identify organisms. A dichotomous key will give you a series of choices between two related characteristics. Choices based on these two characteristics that best fit the organism in question will take you on different paths to ultimately find the name of the organism. Choices typically begin with broad characteristics and become narrower as more choices are required. Begin with number 1 (a).
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