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Nature Locator

The following people are involved with this project:

More about this project

What is Nature Locator?

Nature Locator is a "project team" that designs and creates smartphone applications to involve the public with the collection of ecologically related data.  We are lauching a dedicated website for our projects very soon:

Our Projects

Leaf Watch

Our inaugural project “Leaf Watch” developed an app to “crowd-source” information on the UK distribution of the invasive horse-chestnut leaf miner moth (Cameraria ohridella).  5500 records were collected from all over the UK in the four month recording period. 

We also developed a website application to enable us to crowd source the validation of the collected records.  This further increased public engagement and enable us to assess the appropriateness of this technique for future projects.

Vital statistics

  • Currently available for the iPhone and Android Platforms
  • 5500 records collected in first four months
  • 12,000 App downloads
  • Radio, press and TV coverage including appearing on the BBC One Show, the Sunday Times, Radio 4 Farming Today and tweets by Stephen Fry


  • Best Product - JISC GeoSpatial Programme 2011
  • Highly Commended – UCISA/Eduserve Award for Excellence 2012



Nature Locator’s second project “PlantTracker” is a collaboration between the University of Bristol, the Environment Agency, the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat.

The app is being used to crowd-source data on the distribution of 14 priority invasive plant species in the UK.

The project website has further information and also displays the results collected so far.



This innovative project proposes to design a smartphone app to enable people to ID bats on their phone.

Bats are important biodiversity indicator species that help us to keep track of the health of our environment, but as cryptic nocturnal mammals, researching their distributions and the status of their populations is scientifically challenging. Current bat detecting equipment is expensive and methods for call identification require specialist knowledge, are time- consuming and often subjective. We propose to develop an innovative prototype smartphone application which will:

  • Take transformed ultrasonic signals from an external high quality microphone.
  • Display the recorded calls on-phone in real time using open source sonogram software that we will adapt for the purpose.
  • Create algorithms to enable the isolation, characterisation and identification of calls on-phone.

Coupled with the GPS signal from the smartphone, this will provide researchers with much needed accurate information about species distributions that can feed into national research programmes and inform conservation policy.

The smartphone user will get instant feedback from the app, engaging and retaining public participation in this vital research. The app and algorithms will be made available to the wider FE/HE community for use in other institutions with the potential to be applied to a number of other research domains.

You can see the project blog here:




UK Ladybird Survey App

The Nature Locator team is working with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology to produce a smartphone app to expand their already highly successful Ladybird Survey (  The app will be available from Spring 2013.





The Nature Locator team has just been commissioned to produce a smartphone app for the European RINSE (Reducing the Impacts of Non-native Species in Europe) project.  This will see European partners in France, Holland, Belgium and the UK working together to tackle invasive species.  At its core will be an ongoing data gathering exercise powered by our app.



Following the Nature Locator project

You can follow the progress of Nature Locator and our projects in a number of different ways.

Visit the Nature Locator website:

Visit our individual project websites:

Become a friend on Facebook:

Follow us on Twitter - @NatureLocator

For further information, see the project's website:

Dave Kilbey