Browse our publications and read about OPAL research


OPAL Reports

Community Environment Community Environment Report
A major report documenting findings from the first five years of the OPAL project.



OPAL Update 2009/2010
Information on the second and third national surveys, OPAL Community Champions and OPAL's work with natural history societies.

OPAL Update 2008/2009
Information on OPAL's launch at the Natural History Museum, the first national survey and the work of the National Centres and regions.


  • van der Wal, R., Anderson, H., Robinson, A., Sharma, N., Mellish, C., Roberts, S., ... & Siddharthan, A. (2015). Mapping species distributions: A comparison of skilled naturalist and lay citizen science recording. Ambio44(4), 584-600. DOI:10.1007/s13280-015-0709-x
  • Yanga, C., Harrada, S., Abou-Elwafa Abdallahb, M., Desborougha, J., Rose, N.L., Turner, S.D., Davidson, T.A., Goldsmith, B (2014) Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in English freshwater lakes, 2008–2012. Chemosphere 110:  41–47 DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.03.028
  • Bone, J., Barraclough, D., Eggleton, P., Head, M., Jones, D.T., Voulvoulis, N. (2014) Prioritising Soil Quality Assessment Through the Screening of Sites: the Use of Publicly Collected Data. Land Degradation and Development. In Press Accepted. DOI:10.1002/ldr.2138
  • Riesch, H.  and Potter, C.  (2014). Citizen science as seen by scientists: Methodological, epistemological and ethical dimensions. Public Understanding of Science, 23 (1).  pp. 107 - 120. DOI:10.1177/0963662513497324
  • Ryder, C.L., and Toumi, R. An urban solar flux island: Measurements from London Atmospheric Environment 45 (2011) 3414-3423. DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.03.045
  • Seed, L., Wolseley, P., Gosling, L., Davies, L., Power, S.A. (2013) Modelling relationships between lichen bioindicators, air quality and climate on a national scale: Results from the UK OPAL air survey. Environmental Pollution. (In press). DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2013.07.045
  • Ahmad, M.N., Bujer, P., Khalid, S., Van Den Berg, L., Shah, H.U., Wahid, A., Emberson, L., Power, S.A., Ashmore, M. (2013), Effects of ozone on crops in north-west Pakistan, Environmental Pollution 174: 244-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2012.11.029. 
  • Fowler, A., Whyatt, J.D., Davies, G. and Ellis, R., 2013. How Reliable are Citizen‐Derived Scientific Data? Assessing the Quality of Contrail Observations Made by the General Public. Transactions in GIS, 17(4), pp.488-506. DOI: 10.1111/tgis.12034
  • Stagg, Bethan C., Donkin, Maria E. (2013) Teaching botanical identification to adults: experiences of the UK participatory science project ‘Open Air Laboratories’. Journal of Biological Education.
  • Lee, M. and Power, S.A. (2013). Direct and indirect effects of roads and road vehicles on the plant community composition of calcareous grasslands. Environmental Pollution. 176: 106- 113. DOI:10.1016/j.envpol.2013.01.018
  • Tregidgoa, D.J., West, S.E. and M.R. Ashmore (2013).  Can citizen science produce good science? Testing the OPAL Air Survey methodology, using lichens as indicators of nitrogenous pollution. Environmental Pollution. Elsevier. DOI:10.1016/j.envpol.2013.03.034
  • Tripp, E. J., Crittenden, P. D. & Eichhorn, M. P. (2012). Plant diversity of a lowland heathland site on Lundy. Journal of the Lundy Field Society, 3: 33-40
  • Bone, J., Archer, M., Barraclough, D., Eggleton, P., Flight, D., Head, M., Jones, D.T., Scheib, C., Voulvoulis, N. (2012) Public participation in soil surveys: lessons from a pilot study in England. Environmental Science and Technology, 46 (7), 3687–3696. DOI:10.1021/es203880p
  • Hale J.D., Fairbrass A.J., Matthews T.J. & Sadler J.P. (2012) Habitat composition and connectivity predicts bat presence and activity at foraging sites in a large UK conurbation. Plos One 7: e33300. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0033300
  • Lee, M., Davies, L. and Power, S.A. (2012). Effects of roads on adjacent plant community composition and ecosystem function: an example from three calcareous ecosystems. Environmental Pollution. 163: 273-280. DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2011.12.038
  • Hobbs, S. J., White, P. C. L. (2012). Motivations and barriers in relation to community participation in biodiversity recording. Journal for Nature Conservation. Volume 20, Issue 6, December 2012, Pages 364-373, ISSN 1617-1381, DOI:10.1016/j.jnc.2012.08.002
  • Bates A.J., Sadler J.P., Fairbrass A.J., Falk S.J., Hale J.D. & Matthews T.J. (2011) Changing Bee and Hoverfly Pollinator Assemblages along an Urban-Rural Gradient. Plos One 6(8): e23459. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0023459.
  • Bone, J., Head, M., Jones, D.T., Barraclough, D., Archer, M., Scheib, C., Flight, D., Eggleton, P., Voulvoulis, N. (2011) From Chemical Risk Assessment to Environmental Quality Management: The Challenge for Soil Protection. Environmental Science and Technology, Environmental Policy: Past, Present, and Future Special Issue, 45 (1), 104-110. DOI:10.1021/es101463y
  • Davies, L. Bell, J.N. Bone, J. Head, M. Hill, L. Howard, C., Hobbs, S.J. Jones, D.T. Power, S.A. Rose, N. Ryder, C. Seed, L. Stevens, G. Toumi, R. Voulvoulis, N. White, P.C. (2011) Open Air Laboratories (OPAL): a community-driven research programme. Environmental Pollution, 159, 2203-2210. DOI:10.1016/j.envpol.2011.02.053
  • Donovan, S.M. Skartsila, A.M. Head, M. K. and Voulvoulis N. (2011) An Initial Investigation into the Use of a Flux Chamber Technique to Measure Soil-Atmosphere Gas Exchanges from Application of Biosolids to UK Soils. Applied and Environmental Soil Science. 2011: 10 pages. DOI:10.1155/2011/957181
  • Bone, J., Head, M.K., Jones, D.T., Barraclough, D., Archer, M., Scheib, C., Flight, D., Eggleton, P., Voulvoulis, N. (2010) Soil Quality Assessment Under Emerging Regulatory Requirements. Environment International, 36 (6), 609-622. DOI:10.1016/j.envint.2010.04.010
  • Desborough, J., Harrad, S., Abdallah, M. A-E. (2010) An overview of contamination of the UK environment with HBCD and its degradation products. Organohalogen Compounds 72: 193-196.
  • Lee, M., Manning, P., Rist, J.,Powerm S.A. and Marsh, C. (2010) A global comparison of grassland biomass responses to CO2 and nitrogen enrichment. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 365: 2047-2056. DOI:10.1098/rstb.2010.0028
  • Harrad, S., Abdallah, M. A-E., Rose, N.L., Turner, S.D. & Davidson, T.A. (2009). Current-use brominated flame retardants in water, sediment and fish from English lakes. Environmental Science & Technology 43: 9077 – 9083. DOI:10.1021/es902185u


Book chapters

Sadler, J.P., Bates, A.J., Donovan, R. & Bodnar, S. (2011) Building for Biodiversity: accommodating people and wildlife in cities. In Niemela, J., Elmqvist, T., James, P. (eds.). Urban Ecology: Patterns, Processes, and Applications. Oxford University Press, pp.286-296 . Oxford. ISBN : 9780199563562

Sadler J., Bates A., Hale J., James P. 2010. Bringing cities alive: the importance of urban green spaces for pe ople and biodiversity 230-260 in Gaston KJ (ed.). Urban Ecology. Cambridge University Pre ss, 318pp. ISBN: 9780521760973


Other publications

There are a number of other publications which contain material about OPAL including:


Biodiversity Solutions. 2010. Involving People in Biological Recording. Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 382. Available from: n ed_reports/382.pdf

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) (2012), Interim Chalara Control P lan, 6 December 2012. Available from: 06.pdf

House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (2010). Halting Biodiversity Loss. HC 743, Thirteenth Report of Session 2007-08 - Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence. The Stationary Office. UK. ISBN: 9780215524843. Available from

Jeffery, S. Gardi, C. Jones, A. Montan arella, L. Marmo, L. Miko, L. Ritz, K. Peres, G. Römbke J. van der Putten, W. H. (eds.), 2010, European Atlas of Soil Biodiversity. European Commission, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg. ISBN: 9789279158063 Available from:

Robinson, F. Zass-Ogilvie, I. (2012) Hudson, R. How Can Universities Support Disadvantaged Communities? Joseph Rowntree Foundation. UK. Available from: http ://www.jrf

Roy, H.E., Pocock, M.J.O., Preston, C.D., Roy, D.B., Savage, J., Tweddle, J.C. & Robinson, L.D. (2012) Understanding Citizen Science & Environmental Monitoring. Final Report on behalf of UK-EOF. NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Natural History Museum. Available from:

Turner, S., Rose, N., Goldsmith, B., Harrad, S., Davidson, T. (2013) OPAL Water Centre: Monitoring Report 2008-2012. Open Air Laboratories.


Batty, L.C.; Hallberg, K.B. (eds.) (2010) Ecology of Industrial Pollution. Cambridge University Press. UK ISBN:9780521514460

Muller, N. Werner, P. Kelcey, J. G. (2010) Urban Biodiversity and Design. Wiley Blackwell. UK ISBN: 1444332678

Hemming, H. (2011) Together: How Small Groups Achieve Big Things. John Murray, UK. ISBN: 9781848540552

New, T.M. (2012) Insect Conservation: Past, Present and Prospects. Springer, UK. ISBN: 9400729626

Waite, S. (2011) Children Learning Outside the Classroom: From Birth to Eleven. SAGE. UK. ISBN: 9780857020482

Bowater, L. Yeoman, K. (2012) Science Communication: A Practical Guide for Scientists. Wiley and Sons. UK. ISBN: 9781119993124

Parker, S. (2010) Museum of Life. Natural History Museum, UK. ISBN: 056509260X

Journal Articles

Aanensen, D.M. Huntley, D.M. Feil, E.J. al-Own, F. Spratt, B.G. (2009) EpiCollect: Linking Smartphones to Web Applications for Epidemiology, Ecology and Community Data Collection. PLoS ONE 4(9): e6968. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0006968

Coffey, H. M. P., Fahrig, L. (2012), Relative effects of vehicle pollution, moisture and colonization sources on urban lichens. Journal of Applied Ecology, 49: 1467–1474. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2012.02208.x

Everard, M. Fletcher, M.S. Powell, A. Dobson, M.K. (2011) The Feasibility of Developing Multi-Taxa Indicators for Landscape Scale Assessment of Freshwater Systems. Freshwater Reviews, 4(1):1-19. DOI:10.1608/FRJ-4.1.129

Giannachi, G. (2012) Representing, Performing and Mitigating Climate Change in Contemporary Art Practice, Leonardo, Vol. 45, No. 2 , Pages 124-131. DOI:10.1162/LEON_a_00278

Mackechnie, C. Maskell, L. Norton, L. Roy, D. (2011) The role of ‘Big Society’ in monitoring the state of the natural environment. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 10(13), 2687-2691 DOI:10.1039/C1EM10615E

Palmer Fry, B. Community forest monitoring in REDD+: the ‘M’ in MRV? (2011) Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 14, Issue 2, Pages 181-187, ISSN 1462-9011, DOI:10.1016/j.envsci.2010.12.004

Scanlon, E.(2011) Open science: trends in the development of science learning. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning Vol. 26, Iss. 2, DOI:10.1080/02680513.2011.567456

Siddharthan, A. Mellish, C. Nguyen, H. Zeng, C. Pearce, I. Van Der Wal, R. Tell me a story about the birds and the bees: Using NLG to foster public engagement in nature conservation projects . In Proc. Digital Engagement '11 (Digital Economy All Hands Conference).

Silvertown, J. (2009) A new dawn for citizen science, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Volume 24, Issue 9, September 2009, Pages 467-471, ISSN 0169-5347, DOI:10.1016/j.tree.2009.03.017.

PhD theses

Bone, J. (2012) Environmental quality management for soil protection: the role of citizen science in the process. Ph.D. Thesis. Imperial College London: UK.

Carne, D. (2013) A comparison of carbon sequestration potential and photosynthetic efficiency in evergreen and deciduous oaks g rowing in contrasting environments in the Southwest UK.  Ph.D. Thesis. Plymouth University: UK.

Giannakopoulou, M.E. (2012) Land–Boundary Layer&ndas h;Sea Interactions in the Middle East.  Ph.D. Thesis. Imperial College London : UK.

Hackling, J. (2013) The future of amateur natural history societies in England. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Central Lancashire: UK.

Hall, C. (2013) Trace metal contamination in lakes and ponds in London. Ph.D. Thesis. University College London: UK.

Hobbs, S. (2012) Community participation in biodiversity monitoring. Ph.D. Thesis. University of York: UK.

Lee, M. (2012) A ir Pollution and Climate Change Effects on Grassland Ecosystems. Ph.D. Thesis. Imperial College London: UK.

Rosenfeld, E. (2012) Assessing the e cological significance of linkage and connectivity for avian biodiversity in urban areas. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Birmingham: UK.

Tripp, E. (2012) Local and regional determinants of heathland composition and the likely direction of future change. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Nottingham: UK.

West, S. (2013) Evaluation of environmental education. Ph.D. Thesis. University of York: UK.

Whitelaw, M. (2012) Diversity and distribution of epiphytic bryophytes in apple orchards: Relationship with tree and substrate variables. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hertfordshire: UK.