sandflyDST: a dynamic web-based decision support tool for the morphological identification of sandflies present in Anatolia and mainland Europe, and user study

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Abstract

Species identification of sandflies is mainly performed according to morphological characters using classical written identification keys. This study introduces a new web-based decision support tool (sandflyDST) for guiding the morphological identification of sandfly species present in Anatolia and mainland Europe and classified in the Phlebotomus and Sergentomyia genera (both: Diptera: Psychodidae). The current version of the tool consists of 111 questions and 36 drawings obtained from classical written keys, and 107 photographs for the quick and easy identification of 26 species of the genus Phlebotomus and four species of the genus Sergentomyia. The tool guides users through a decision tree using yes/no questions about the morphological characters of the specimen. The tool was applied by 30 individuals, who then completed study questionnaires. The results of subsequent analyses indicated that the usability (Symbol) and users' level of appreciation (86.6%) of the tool were quite high; almost all of the participants considered recommending the tool to others. The tool may also be useful in training new entomologists and maintaining their level of expertise. This is a dynamic tool and can be improved or upgraded according to feedback. The tool is now available online at http://parasitology.ege.edu.tr/sandflyDST/index.php.

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