Non-native Invasive species issues are commanding a lot of natural resource professional's attention these days. Whether it concerns insects, diseases, plants, mammals or aquatic species there is something out there for everyone! One thing that is true across the board is that early detection is key to dealing more effectively with all of these.
As a group of Extension professionals were discussing our new Asian longhorned beetle infestation in 2011 we kept coming back to how do we get these things reported early when they are still on a relatively small scale. We were looking for new outreach tools to empower citizens to get involved – so that they could be our eyes across the state. One idea was the use of smart phone technology in the form of an app.
Page ahead to September 2012 and we are part of a group that launches the Great Lakes Early Detection Network. This smart phone app is a tool for professionals and citizens to utilize in identifying and reporting suspect invasive species. The app contains images to use as a means of identification, an info section to help with the identification process and a section that allows you to take a photo (with gps coordinates) of the suspect and upload it to the EDDMapS system where it will be sent to an expert for verification (EDDMapS requires you to register with the system so you can be contacted for any necessary follow-up). Once verified, a point is placed on a map allowing all of us to see issues emerging early and hopefully allowing us to address them more efficiently.
This free app is the creation of the University of Georgia's Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. They will maintain the data that the app collects and update the app as we add things to the list. To access the mobile link for the app go to http://go.osu.edu/GLEDN or access it and other mobile apps offered by the center at http://apps.bugwood.org/apps/gledn/ . One thing to keep in mind as you look at what is listed in the app as 'invasive' – this is a regional app. The intent is to make it a tool useful to those of us working on this issue across the Great Lakes Region. To that end there are species listed that may not appear to pose a problem in Ohio but are of concern in one of the other states in the region. Download the app and become part of Ohio's early detection network!