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A Critical Review of the Iawa Standard List of Characters Formatted for the Ident Programs

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This paper critiques the IAWA's 'Standard List of Characters Suitable for Computerized Hardwood Identification.' The IAWA list was designed to fit a series of programs developed by Morse in the early 1970's and has the same number of characters originally used by Morse. Some of these characters are not essential for wood identification and it is suggested that the list be shortened to save storage space and be less formidable to potential users. The original IAWA list does not permit effective use of most existing data from multiple entry keys. Also, the 'best way' to measure quantitative features needs further consideration. It would be advantageous to group the descriptors by anatomical feature, rather than by 'character type'. A revised datasheet with a reduced number of features and showing such an arrangement is presented. The advisability of relying on a single list is discussed, and it is suggested that separate lists with features useful for particular groups, e.g. Eucalypts and Legumes, be created.


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