Reports invasive species with your cell phone!
Thanks to the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia you can easily report invasive species sightings for a wide variety of plants and animals that have become established across the country. During my 2015 field season I was lucky enough to hear some of the researchers working on the application speak at the ECISMA conference in Davie, FL.
The app, called I'veGot1, is available for a variety of operating systems. The app communicates with a larger Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System (EDDMapS) database to contribute to the effort of monitoring invasive species across the country.
The app caught my attention for two reason. First, by reporting sightings immediately, (with photo evidence and GPS coordinates) citizen scientists can readily contribute to research. IveGot1 not only provides an easy-to-navigate interface, but also has detailed background information for each species. Second, I notice that my focal species, the Common Myna, was not included in their list--however, after I sent an email to the developers, they kindly added the Myna to their list of invasive birds. If you are ever traveling through Florida, I encourage you to log any Myna (or other invasive) sightings with the IveGot1 app!
After attending the conference in Davie, FL, my first experience using the app took place quite a bit closer to home. Last summer, while volunteering with a youth cycling organization (based in East Harlem) called Cyclopedia we spotted several Monk Parakeets along the Hudson River. The group's leader Dr. Cappy Collins initially heard the flock, and our group of bikers was treated to the rare sight of a parrot flying through Manhattan. The students and I logged the report in the IveGot1 app, and now it's uploaded in the EDDMapS databased.
This morning, I checked-in on Common Myna reports in South Florida, and saw many around my study site in Homestead, FL. Although the heat map shows the largest amount around southern florida, the focus of my research is shifting towards the "invasion front"--sites like Tampa and Melbourne which represent the northern most reaches of the Common Myna in Florida. I encourage you to download the app and explore it's features--and whenever you spot an invasive species send a report through IveGot1.
EDDMapS. 2016. Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System. The University of Georgia - Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Available online at http://www.eddmaps.org/; last accessed January 29, 2016.