The New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team is working to prevent the spread of emerging invasive species across New Jersey, and they’ve created a smartphone app to help.
Using part of a 2013 Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the team has released an app that can help you identify and report sightings of new invasive species.
The new app, called New Jersey Invasives, can help farmers, forest landowners and outdoor enthusiasts quickly identify newly discovered and localized invasive species and get information on how to combat them before they become a larger and more costly problem.
Unchecked, invasive species can disrupt the balance of plants and animals in their native ecological system and can also adversely impact local economies. Dealing with invasive species early in the infestation stage is important because that is when you are most likely to achieve long-term control over the problem.
The app has photos of aquatic plants, herbs/forbs, grasses, trees, shrubs, vines, insects, wildlife and plant pathogens along with information on how to identify suspected invasive plants.
The lists can be sorted by either scientific or common names, which is beneficial to those unfamiliar with the Latin names. App users who discover an unwanted species can photograph the culprit with a smartphone camera, log into their Strike Team account and submit a report. That’s all there is to it!
Once the team receives the report, the botanists, entomologists and aquatic biologists who serve on the Strike Team’s Technical Advisory Committee will verify each sighting and add the information to the online database it uses to track the spread of problem species.
Anyone who has an iPhone or Android phone can connect to wireless internet and download the free app through iTunes or Google Play.
A second app, also part of the grant and due out this summer, will help track work underway to control invasive species that have been identified. The Strike Team will use that data to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies and protocols it recommends for treating invasive infestations.
NRCS administers the grant program to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies.
With CIG funding, the New Jersey Strike Team was able to benefit from the wide use of smartphones, using existing technology to help manage invasive plants that pose problems on private and public lands. Their project is a great illustration of what the grant program was created to do for conservation.