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Citizen science and global biodiversity
Citizen science and global biodiversity

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6.3 Using iSpot keys

Identification keys are designed to help you work out what type of wildlife you’ve seen by requiring you to answer a series of questions about the species you’ve observed. The identification keys on iSpot have been designed using a novel approach based on Bayesian statistics and may, therefore, be different from other identification keys you might have encountered.

When using iSpot’s identification keys, simply describe your specimen by answering as many questions as you can and iSpot will comb through its selected dictionary and suggest which species most accurately matches the details you have provided. When a species is starred, it means you have a good match, so you should check the description to confirm your identification and follow the links for more information. Unlike a traditional branching (i.e. dichotomous) key, you don’t have to answer questions in a fixed order; instead, iSpot’s identification keys use probabilities. Put simply, the more evidence you can provide, the more definite your identification will be.

iSpot’s identification keys cover a range of different species groups (lichens, trees, minibeasts, earthworms for example), including several that can help if you are carrying out the surveys run by Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Go to the iSpot page for keys and for more information go to iSpot keys for beginners.