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 September 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 September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
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