New smartphone app to track problem plants in UK

June 14, 2012
New smartphone app to track problem plants in UK
A flower on a Himalayan Balsam plant. Image by Dave Kilbey

The University of Bristol is using technology to help protect the UK’s wildlife thanks to the launch of a new mobile phone app which enables the public to track the spread of invasive plants.

The PlantTracker helps people to record where they have spotted Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and Floating Pennywort - three particularly problematic Invasive, Non-Native Species (INNS) that are causing untold problems in the UK.

They pose a threat to biodiversity, increase flood risk and affect the state of our water environment, costing the British economy a minimum of £1.7 billion per annum.

Tackling the problem in such a high-tech fashion is The Environment Agency who has teamed up with the Nature Locator project at Bristol University and the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH).

The project is being piloted in the Midlands initially, where residents are being urged to download the PlantTracker app which shows them how to identify each species and enables users to easily submit geo-located photos whenever they find one.

Dave Kilbey, Nature Locator Project Manager, said: “Engaging members of the public with scientific research is an exciting and expanding area with benefits both to science and the individuals involved. Smartphone apps are ideally suited to projects of this kind and the Nature Locator team aims to build a portfolio of apps to tackle some of our many environmental problems.”

The project team work in the research and development division of IT Services, which explores how the internet and other technologies can aid research, future learning and management processes.

Nature Locator’s award-winning inaugural project ‘Leaf Watch’ was an app designed to collect information on an invasive moth which is threatening horse chestnut trees in the UK. A total of 5,500 records were collected from across the country in a four month recording period.

The PlantTracker app is available free from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store by searching for planttracker (one word), or from the website planttracker.naturelocator.org/

It is hoped that in subsequent years the project will be expanded to cover the whole of the UK.  Records can be submitted from outside the Midlands but they may not be analysed straight away.

You download the app and then follow the progress of the project and the reports that are coming in via a blog on the project website planttracker.naturelocator.org/, on twitter using #planttracker and @envagencymids, or at www.facebook.com/naturelocator ;

Further information is available from the Environment Agency’s website.

Explore further: NASA space images app, website broaden cosmic horizons

Related Stories

NASA space images app, website broaden cosmic horizons

May 5, 2011

Professional and amateur space aficionados are in for a treat with the new Space Images Version 2 app, created by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena Calif. The free app is now optimized for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch ...

Yahoo! helps find smartphone 'apps'

June 16, 2011

Yahoo! has begun helping people navigate the sea of applications available for Apple iPhones or mobile gadgets powered by Google-backed Android software.

Recommended for you

Researchers design first artificial ribosome

July 29, 2015

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University have engineered a tethered ribosome that works nearly as well as the authentic cellular component, or organelle, that produces all the proteins ...

Studies reveal details of error correction in cell division

July 29, 2015

Cell biologists led by Thomas Maresca at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with collaborators elsewhere, report an advance in understanding the workings of an error correction mechanism that helps cells detect and ...

Researchers discover new type of mycovirus

July 29, 2015

Researchers, led by Dr Robert Coutts, Leverhulme Research Fellow from the School of Life and Medical Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire, and Dr Ioly Kotta-Loizou, Research Associate at Imperial College, have discovered ...

Stressed out plants send animal-like signals

July 29, 2015

University of Adelaide research has shown for the first time that, despite not having a nervous system, plants use signals normally associated with animals when they encounter stress.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.