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iSpot: Crowdsourcing effective for gathering biodiversity data

February 12, 2015
Pensoft Publishers
New research on iSpot -- The Open University's platform to help people share and learn more about nature -- has recognised crowdsourcing as having a key role in the identification of plant species and wildlife.

Launched in 2009, iSpot is a citizen science platform aimed at helping anyone, anywhere identify anything in nature. To date, around 42,000 people have registered as iSpot users and over 390,000 observations have been made, leading to the identification of more than 24,000 species.

New research, undertaken by the OU, looking into the success of the iSpot model has found that the structure of the platform's social network to be a key feature. iSpot combines learning technology with crowdsourcing, enabling beginners to connect with experts, and leading to plant and wildlife species being identified accurately.

Over 94% of observations submitted to iSpot receive some sort of identification with more than half being named within an hour. Using a unique process based on an iSpot user's 'reputation', the platform motivates iSpotters to verify species and rewards them for doing so. In 57% of such cases the reputation system improved the accuracy of the determination.

The research concluded that by effectively connecting users in this way they are able overcome the social as well as geographic barriers that prevent the sharing of knowledge.

Janice Ansine, Citizen Science Project Manager at The Open University and iSpot manager said: "Being able to correctly identify plant and wildlife is a key skill to furthering our understanding of biodiversity, but sadly one that tends to be neglected in formal education at all levels. This research shows that a social network such as iSpot is an incredibly effective tool in not only connecting nature lovers from across the globe, but also in capturing invaluable biodiversity data and insight."

Story Source:

Materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Jonathan Silvertown, Martin Harvey, Richard Greenwood, Mike Dodd, Jon Rosewell, Tony Rebelo, Janice Ansine, Kevin McConway. Crowdsourcing the identification of organisms: A case-study of iSpot. ZooKeys, 2015; 480: 125 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.480.8803

Cite This Page:

Pensoft Publishers. "iSpot: Crowdsourcing effective for gathering biodiversity data." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2015. <>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2015, February 12). iSpot: Crowdsourcing effective for gathering biodiversity data. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 22, 2024 from
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