Nature Lovers Unite on ISpot

ISpot is a British-based website that provides an interactive platform for anyone who is interested in natural habitats, organisms, plants and outdoor creatures. This wildlife site provides a comprehensive directory of photos and discussion threads that can be viewed by any visitor. Learn more about how nature lovers unite on iSpot here.

environmental

About iSpot

ISpot was developed in 2009 by the Open University, a distance university that has been around since the late '60s. Open University has been a long-standing collaborator with BBC, providing educational shows for TV viewers all over the world. ISpot came about as a by-product of the Open Air Laboratories initiative, which is funded by the country's lottery system. In 2010, iSpot won the notable Wildscreen Panda Award for its role in new media.

Website Features

If you're interested in commenting on a photo you've viewed, posting pictures or creating your own image gallery, you must sign up with the site. Registration is free. If you are affiliated with the Open University or a naturalist organization, you can request specialized markers to appear alongside your name indicating the organization to which you belong.

Observations

When you post an observation listing the name of the creature or plant you've found, there are different 'confidence levels' that indicate to others how sure you are about the name you noted. What's more, you don't need a photo to post an observation. If you don't have a camera but have come across a unique species, you can post the color, shape and approximate size as well as the location of where you stumbled across it. Others can agree or disagree with your findings or comment with their own notes to help you uncover the true name of your subject. As of 2010, there were nearly 30,000 observations on the site.

Groups

There are various biological subsectors noted on the website that allow users to narrow down their postings. At the end of each of these group pages are links to other helpful websites. For example, if you're viewing the page about invertebrates, you might come across links to such organizations as the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society, Amateur Entomologists' Society or Butterfly Conservation.

The groups are divided as follows:

  • Plants
  • Mammals
  • Fish
  • Birds
  • Invertebrates
  • Reptiles and amphibians
  • Lichens and fungi
  • Others

Activities

There are a lot of fun and interesting activities available on iSpot. For one, iSpot announces what are known as bioblitzes, which are usually 1-day events in which nature lovers meet at a specific time and place and try to record as many observations as possible. Members are also invited to participate in site-affiliated wildlife research surveys. What's more, iSpot makes it easy to access or post content: you can follow them on Twitter or 'share' any page on the site with a friend.

Resources

At the top of every page is a 'search' function that allows you to seek information on any natural creature, plant or organism that you might be interested in learning more about. There is also a computer-based probability key that helps registered users narrow down an observation by visible characteristics; the program then scans through a database to reveal probable matches. In addition, the site offers a number of articles on relevant subjects, including tips on picture-taking and field exploration.

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