01 Jul 2009

iSpot – a new website for everyone to identify wildlife

Chrysomela populi

Chrysomela populi

The Open University is getting its hands dirty and helping local environments by launching a new social networking website: iSpot – your place to share nature.

“Have you ever seen a bird, an insect or a plant that you didn’t know the name of and wished you had someone there to tell you what it is? Or you know the name but you want to share the excitement of discovery with someone? Well, that is what iSpot is all about,” says Jonathan Silvertown, Project Leader and Professor of Ecology at The Open University (OU). “It’s a place where you can get help putting a name to wildlife you have seen and share your observations with others. Take a picture with your camera or mobile, if you can, and upload this to iSpot, or describe what you saw and the friendly community of iSpotters who include OU experts will help you. Putting a name to a creature is the key to learning more about it and sharing your interest in nature with others.” is open to anyone interested in wildlife and the environment; whether you’re a science student, a casual observer or an experienced wildlife watcher and is being developed as part of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project. On iSpot users can upload pictures and share observations from their local areas, join discussion groups and forums while learning from others willing to impart their expertise and knowledge on the site.

For anyone who wants to take their interest in natural history a step further The Open University is offering a brand new introductory level course, Neighbourhood Nature, which combines theory and practice and includes iSpot as a field based activity. The course will help students on a natural history journey working in conjunction with OPAL project partners, a raft of regional and local community groups including the Woodland Trust to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds who have knowledge of local public open spaces.

“We all have a responsibility to our environment, and this is an active and educational way we can help create a wealth of information for future generations through teaching people how to observe wildlife in their local area, while also learning scientific facts and skills in observing, recording and analysing data,” says David Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Biological Science at The Open University.

The Neighbourhood Nature course is now open for enrolment. The iSpot website is live at

Neighbourhood Nature and iSpot – your place to share nature are funded by The Big Lottery Fund’s £11.7million grant to OPAL in which The Open University is a partner.

back to All News stories

back to previous page

back to top