On line identification – crowd sourcing

Getting help with identification of species can be challenging.  For plants you can join the Botanical Society of the British Isles and become involved with a whole network of specialist professionals and amateurs and this is also possible for many other groups of organisms – birds, fungi, insects etc. However this is often more commitment than a more casual enthusiast wants. Another way to get help with identification is to post your species on one of the several web 2.0 sites that caters for ID and reporting of species. There are three main ones that I know: iSpot, Project Noah and iNaturalist.

iSpot is UK based and a product of the OPEL project. It has a UK and rest of Europe focus but does include observations from around the World. Contributors get a grading to indicate how ‘expert’ they are so that comments on ID come wi an indication of how likely the commenter is to be right. It’s a simple to use system.

Project Noah is perhaps the glossiest of the three projects and has a US focus, again with contributions from around the world. It has a projects section that facilitates crowd sourced information gathering for projects.

iNaturalist is another US based project that allows gathering of information and crowd sourced identification aid. It too has a user friendly interface with images of the organisms and maps of where they have been found.

All three sites seem to offer similar functions and have similar aims. I guess you choose the one that suits you best. If you have any experience using these I’d very much appreciate your comments.

About Alastair Culham

A professional botanist and biologist with an interest in promoting biological knowledge and awareness to all.
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