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ASBS Newsletter – Book Review

Adventrop Doc - Les adventices d'Afrique soudano-sahéliene

(From ASBS Newsletter Number 98, March 1999)

Adventrop Doc is a multimedia interactive identification aid to the major introduced weedy plants of cotton, maize, peanuts, and sorghum plantations of the soudano-sahéliene region of tropical West Africa. The soudano-sahéliene climatic region has an annual rainfall of 900-1200 mm and a dry season of 6 months. This is a CD-Rom version of Bourgeois and Merlier's book (1995), of the same name, and provides information for 142 species.

Installation of the Adventrop Doc software is extremely simple and rapid, guided by clear instructions with the CD-Rom. There are several installation options available. This software was developed by P. Grard using Visual Basic 3.0 and Visual C/C++ 1.0.

This is an interesting example of the use of the CD-Rom medium as an identification aid. Adventrop Doc is extremely graphical. It uses readily identifiable icons throughout and the key is navigated using only illustrations. Characters are selected by 'clicking' on a stylised diagram of a plant and its parts. Selected character-states are also presented graphically and chosen by using the left mouse button. Re-clicking on a feature enables it to be removed from the identification process. The number of Taxa matching the character-states selected is listed. The key is extremely simple to use, without the need for botanical terminology (and the French language). The use of hyperlinked words throughout Adventrop Doc provides access to a pictorial or textual dictionary. This is an excellent feature.

The information provided for all taxa include: relevant references, synonymy, a good description (covering habit of both seedlings and adults, stem, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds), diagnostic features, biology, ecology, distribution, germination and development cycle. Each taxon is illustrated with photographs and line drawings of adults and juveniles, and generalised distribution maps. There are 400 colour images (some of which are not of the best quality). These images can be printed out. The resolution of the line drawings is often best appreciated when printed out. Unfortunately, the textual information needs to be copied into Word before it can be printed.

Although the taxa presented are of limited relevance to Australian users this is an excellent example of an interactive key that is elegantly presented in a user-friendly manner. Anyone seeking to construct a key that is easy to use by a wide range of people should look at this product. The authors are to be congratulated on their contribution to identification aids; although it appears to be designed with farmers and managers in mind, it has a simplicity and logical approach to identification that appeals to at least 2 professional botanists.

Technical Requirements:
IBM or compatible 486 DX or better
SVGA monitor - at least 640 x 480 pixel screen resolution
256 colour screen display or better
At least 5 MB of free hard-disk space
4 MB Ram (Windows 3.1) 8 MB Ram (Windows 95)

'Adventrop Doc - Les adventices d'Afrique soudano-sahéliene', by P. Grard, T. Le Bourgeois, and H. Merlier, CIRAD, Montpellier (1996). Price: Book 350 FF; Book and CD 2000 FF. Postal Address: CIRAD-CA, Service des publications, de l'information et de la documentation, 2477 avenue du Val de Montferrand, BP 5035, 34032 Montpellier Cedex 1, FRANCE.

A demonstration version is available at the website of Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD):

Reviewers: Elizabeth A. Brown & Barry J. Conn