The research project is based on 3 main topics.
A) Creation of on-line interactive floras and identification keys of lichens from areas of the Antarctic Continent, and in particular from Victoria Land. Information, stored in a dedicated database, will be freely accessible through a web site, that will provide descriptions and pictures of the lichens reported in the literature from areas of the ... Antarctic Continent, as well as nomenclatural, taxonomic, distributional and ecological data, and interactive identification tools, based on user-friendly interfaces and easy-to-observe characters, conceived both for lichenologists and non-specialists. At present VICTORIA, the information system on lichens from Victoria Land, (continental Antarctica), is freely available in the Internet at: http://dbiodbs.univ.trieste.it/antartide/victoria and provides information on the lichens from the Terra Nova Bay area.
B) Identification and revision of Antarctic lichens. The project aims to improve the knowledge of lichen diversity of Antarctica, by analysis of collections and taxonomic revisions of critical groups of lichens occurring in Antarctica.
C) Creation of the Antarctic Lichen section (ELA) within the TSB Herbarium (Dept. of Biology, University of Trieste) to hold lichen material collected by the Italian Expeditions in Antarctica from 1987 onwards. At present ELA holds c. 1000 herbarium specimens, and constitutes the Lichenological Section of the Italian Antarctic National Museum.
-------- A) The on-line information system provides computerized interactive floras and identification keys; it is searchable through several query interfaces. It runs on an Oracle Database 10g and an Oracle Application Server 10g located at the Department of Biology of the University of Trieste. The information system provides published information only.
It is organised in two main data sources:
1) Taxon information. This is stored in LIANT (LIchens of ANTarctica), a database which derives from an earlier database developed in 1996 with Paradox 5.0 (Borland International, Inc.) to manage herbarium specimens data of the Antarctic Lichen Herbarium (ELA) of TSB and to store literature information on Antarctic lichens. LIANT is mainly a literature database, which retrieves descriptions and pictures of taxa, and nomenclatural, taxonomic, distributional and ecological data.
2) Identification data. The interactive identification tools are produced by program FRIDA (see below) on the base of morpho-anatomical, chemical, ecological and distributional data. Moreover, the database holds an iconographic archive to support the couplets of the dichotomous keys. FRIDA (Friendly IdentificAtion) is an original and flexible program developed by S. Martellos and patented by the University of Trieste. It is written in PL/SQL language and runs on an Oracle Database, connected to the Web by an Oracle Application Server. FRIDA can automatically generate both interactive identification tools accessible on-line, and traditional, dichotomous paper-printed identification keys. It can be easily connected to ecological, taxonomical or distributional databases, which permits to produce keys on the base of different criteria: e.g. growth form, substrate, or distribution. The interactive on-line tools are both dichotomous and multi-criteria keys. In the multi-criteria keys, the user can specify any set of ecological, distributional, morphological or chemical characters which can be used as filters to reduce the number of species included in a key.
B) Identification and revision of lichens are based on careful examination of specimens hold in ELA (TSB), and analysis of collections including types from many other herbaria.
C) The Antarctic Lichen section (ELA) of the TSB Herbarium (Dept. of Biology, University of Trieste) holds lichens collected by members of the Italian Expeditions from 1987 onwards. Specimen data are organized in a database as follows: number of sample, list of species present in the sample, locality, substrate, notes, date of collection, name of collector.