How to become a wildlife detective with two new apps â€“ and help with nature conservation
Not so long ago, few people had even heard of an app. Today, almost everyone who owns a smartphone will have an app or several dozen. Now two new nature apps are helping to fight the threat of invasive species in Scotland and to show how climate change might affect plant and marine life.
The latest apps for wildlife fans â€“ or detectives! â€“ include the AquaInvaders app, which records freshwater invasive species, and the Sealife Tracker, which covers marine invasives. These apps allow people to quickly and easily record sightings of non-native species across Scotland.
Why non-native species are a threat
Non-native species â€“ such as killer shrimp and zebra mussels â€“ are the second most serious threat to global biodiversity after habitat loss.
Thanks to the apps, a rare sighting of a triggerfish near Mull was recorded this autumn. Â Their movement is thought to be a climate change indicator and knowing where the triggerfish are can help scientists to understand the distribution in UK waters.
An app for plant life recordings
The two new apps join PlantTracker, which was the first app to allow the public to easily record what, where and when they see invasive non-native species in Scotland and the wider UK.
Some 15,000 people have downloaded the Plant Tracker app since it was launched in 2012.
The apps are all available to download for iPhone and Android.
Apps help for SNH
At Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), invasive non-native species expert Stan Whitaker explained why the apps are so useful. He said: â€œYou don’t have to be a diver or snorkeller to help us find out more about the invasive threats in Scotlandâ€™s waters.
“The apps feature many species that you’re just as likely to find in rock pools and on the shoreline. And if you own a boat, there’s every chance you may encounter species like sunfish while out at sea, or find the invasive species in marinas.â€
Scot Mathieson, Principal Policy Officer for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), said: “The new apps are a great way to involve the general public in some of the work currently underway to conserve Scotland’s indigenous species from the spread of invasive, non-native wildlife.â€