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Citizen science and global biodiversity
Citizen science and global biodiversity

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6.2 The Species Browser and taxonomy

The Species Browser is organised using the taxonomic hierarchies (‘trees of life’) in the species dictionaries that iSpot uses. There is more on this later in this section. There are two main species dictionaries integrated in iSpot: the UK Natural History Museum’s Species Inventory in UK and Ireland, and the Catalogue of Life in the Global community. You can find out which one is being used for the community you’ve selected by clicking on the ‘Explore community’ button in the menu bar and selecting ‘Species dictionary’ from the drop-down menu. The dictionary for that community is listed on the next page. To select another dictionary, go to the ‘Communities’ menu, select a different area and navigate back to the same page.

The Species Browser is a good tool for finding out the most frequently observed species in each group, and it might help you to recognise a species that you’ve seen yourself. There are, however, more formal identification keys [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] on iSpot for many groups as well.

iSpot Species Browser versus species dictionaries

What is the difference between the Species Browser and the ‘Taxonomy’ links/species dictionary pages?

The Species Browser always shows species (or genera, families, etc.) ranked in descending frequency of observation, while the species dictionary pages (you can navigate to these from the Taxonomy links) show the observations ranked in the order that they were added, with the most recent appearing first in the list. Also, the Species Browser view makes it easier to compare images of different but related species or groups on the same page, unlike the species dictionary pages. In Activity 3 you learned how to navigate to a species dictionary page from Species Browser images.

How does iSpot choose which image represents a species?

The image shown for each species is the one that has been identified with the greatest combined reputation score, which is an aggregate value taking into account the reputations of the identifier and all the people who have supported the observation. In many cases, this process selects images that are particularly good examples of the species, showing the identification features clearly, although they might not be the best-looking images on iSpot!