James Borrell is a biodiversity scientist and science communicator researching how people and nature can adapt to environmental change.

Citizen Science #3: Seeking Species

Once upon a time..

Heroic gentleman explorers set off for strange new exotic lands on the insatiable hunt for new species. Alas for the good old days. Here are some excuses why people don’t do that anymore…

  • It’s all been discovered already.
  • I’m not a scientist and I don’t know anything about species.
  • I live in boring old England and we don’t have any wildlife!

Rubbish. Let’s explode some myths.

Citizen Science Discoveries

Science might have ‘discovered’ a lot of our species, but you would probably be surprised to read that plenty of exciting creatures are still discovered each year (here was the top ten for 2012). More than that though, we’re finding species in places we didn’t expect, or watching them disappear from the habitats they once roamed. So the nature of our wildlife is changing all around us, and unless we take a moment to observe what’s happening then we probably won’t be able to help conserve them in the future.

Citizen Science and the millions of people now armed with smart phones have suddenly made it possible to crowd source conservation. That is, collect vast swathes of information quickly and easily from around the world – and that’s what is cool about it – ordinary folks like you and me contributing to a whole host of exciting conservation projects.

For example, this new species of fly was discovered by a scientist perusing Flickr!

As I’ve wittered on about, you don’t need to be a scientist to be scientist. So, this month as part of my Year of Citizen Science, I thought I’d draw your attention to a clever new project called iSpot. Watch the handsome Chris Packham introduce it in the video above. Have you got any pictures languishing on your hard drive? Why not upload them? Not only will you get to find out what they are, but you’ll be contributing to all the projects that rely on this kind of data. Click on the big image below to be taken to iSpot…

So the challenge for March, as Spring emerges in all it’s glory is to head out in search of species. Enjoy!

 My Species..



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