Researchers and growers can track and map invasive weed infestations using online databases and their smartphone applications, suggest Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) officials.
“These new resources are moving pockets of information out of universities and laboratories and into the public domain,” says Lee Van Wychen, WSSA science policy director. “Now scientists, policy makers and even the general public can use the data to track the location and movement of weeds and monitor the effectiveness of management strategies.”
Online databases can be found at:
- Global Invasive Species Information Network, administered by the National Institute for Invasive Species Science of the U.S. Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center.
- iMapInvasives from The Nature Conservancy.
- Invasive Plant Atlas of the MidSouth from the Mississippi State University Geosystems Research Institute.
- National Institute for Invasive Species Science Database, administered by the U.S. Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center.
- Plants of the United States from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Those with smartphone apps can help keep these databases up to date by easily capturing and reporting invasive-weed information. One example is the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System (EDDMapS) app, developed by the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia.
“Simply use your phone to take a picture of the weed, and the application grabs the GPS coordinates automatically,” says Karan Rawlins, invasive species coordinator at the Center. “Estimate the size of the infestation, press send and your sighting goes out for validation by state and local experts.”
“If you want to collect information on weeds growing in a local park or schoolyard, you simply create an account and download data for that location,” Rawlins said. “You can view the results on an interactive map, download them into an Excel file, sort by species and track infestations over time.”
EDDMapS apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices are free and can be downloaded at apps.bugwood.org.