Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

From mobile phone to alien plant hunter

Date:
December 17, 2012
Source:
British Ecological Society (BES)
Summary:
Mobile phone users are being urged to help fight the spread of invasive plants across the UK – by downloading PlantTracker. The new app has already attracted 7,000 downloads and alerted ecologists to 2,500 sites where key invasive species have been spotted.

Himalayan balsam.
Credit: Copyright Dave Kilbey

Mobile phone users are being urged to help fight the spread of invasive plants across the UK -- by downloading PlantTracker. The new app has already attracted 7,000 downloads and alerted ecologists to 2,500 sites where key invasive species have been spotted.

An updated version, due for launch in the spring, will be previewed at this week's British Ecological Society Annual Meeting at the University of Birmingham.

The spread of Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and other non-native invasive plants is becoming a major threat to native species in the UK, damaging the ecology of many vulnerable habitats. Some like Giant Hogweed are also harmful to human health and together, invasive species cost the UK economy 2 billion a year.

The first stage of tackling the spread of invasive species is identifying where they occur. PlantTracker, which is available free from the iTunes App Store and Android Market, lets users report sightings of 14 high-priority invasive plants and log their location.

According to ecologist Dave Kilbey of Nature Locator, the project which developed the app: "PlantTracker is easy to use. If you can't tell your balsam from your hogweed you can use the app's inbuilt photographic guide, which also features likely 'confusion' species and handy notes pointing out the major diagnostic features. When you spot one of the featured invasive plants you'll first need to take a photo of the plant using your phone's camera. The app will then obtain a GPS fix on your location. Next, simply record how much of the plant is present using a basic scale and send the record to our database."

Since August, Kilbey has received 2,500 correctly identified invasive plants, and several of these have allowed rapid remedial action to be taken. "PlantTracker sightings have already allowed removal of isolated outbreaks of Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed on a tributary of the Thames and many interventions relating to Floating Pennywort from the Midlands and Greater London areas. And because it means invasive plants can be removed earlier, the app is helping reduce the cost of treatment and the amount of herbicide required," he explains.

A new version of PlantTracker, with details of more invasive species, is being launched in spring 2013 and Nature Locator is also working on apps for recording the UK's ladybirds, butterflies and invasive marine and freshwater organisms. BatMobile, a high-tech new bat identification app will allow people to identify bats from their ultrasonic calls.

As well as helping control invasive plant species and monitor bats, whose numbers are declining significantly, apps like PlantTracker and BatMobile are helping turn nature lovers into citizen scientists, says Kilbey: "Engaging the public with citizen science like this has multiple benefits: it cuts the cost of collecting data; increases awareness of, and educates people about, conservation issues; and empowers people to make a contribution at the same time as boosting both the amount and, more significantly, the quality of the data collected."

Data collected through PlantTracker is available to anyone from the Biological Records Centre online iRecord site at http://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/.

Dave Kilbey will present a poster on PlantTracker on Tuesday 18 December 2012 to the British Ecological Society's Annual Meeting at the University of Birmingham.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by British Ecological Society (BES). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

British Ecological Society (BES). "From mobile phone to alien plant hunter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217234940.htm>.
British Ecological Society (BES). (2012, December 17). From mobile phone to alien plant hunter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217234940.htm
British Ecological Society (BES). "From mobile phone to alien plant hunter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217234940.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins