New iPhone App for Tracking Invasive Species near the Great Lakes


Asian carp. The Long-horned beetle. Zebra mussels.

These are all threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem. They’re invasive, nonnative species, and they can cause a lot of trouble.

Now, there’s a way for ordinary folks to play detective.

OSU researchers developed a free app for tracking invaders to the Great Lakes region.

Now people can use their phones to snap photos of pesky vines, harmful critters, maybe even the bighead carp or a walnut tree riddled with disease.

The data is reviewed by scientists and passed along to natural resource agencies that decide how to respond.

Invasive species choke off the growth of native plants and animals; they tend to spread fast and furious.

App developer Kathy Smith says these invaders cost the U.S. more than $120 billion dollars each year in things like crop loss, tree death, and control measures.

Smith says this new app is part of an emerging trend of “citizen science”— projects aimed at getting ordinary people involved in data collection and scientific research.

SMITH: There’s not enough of us resource professionals to be out and about looking for all these things, and so if we can have folks that are paying attention as they’re walking and doing other things—oh wow, look at that, that’s different, should I report it—that’s just huge. That multiplier effect can have a huge impact.

To download the new app, just search for "Great Lakes Early Detection Network" on your phone, and then keep your eyes peeled.

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