Non-native invasive species do incredible damage to our native ecosystems. They exclude our native species — insects, plants, animals and other biota – reducing biodiversity, reducing crop yields, reducing recreational enjoyment of our waters, and lowering land values.
While awareness of the damage invasives do has expanded, it isn’t always clear what we as individuals can do. With the technology of smart phones and tablets, there is a fun new app available to help map locations of invasions. This app is the Great Lake Early Detection Network (GLEDN) and has been developed specifically for our area.
It’s an easy-to-use and intuitive app. Wisconsin First Detector Network (WIFDN) has videos to assist with downloading the app and getting started. Once the app is downloaded, you can choose from these categories: aquatics, birds, crustaceons, diseases, fish, grasses, herb/forbs, and insects.
Embedded in the app is a fact sheet about each species. Each fact sheet includes photos, species descriptions, currently mapped locations of infestations and an explanation of why it’s an ecological threat.
Data is collected with a single point or with a polygon. The larger infestations are noted with a polygon which can be drawn to the exact shape of the invasion. If you use the polygon option, the app calculates the size of the infestation. Each record automatically ascertains the GPS points using the WSG84 datum format.
Each record is verified so a photo is required. This verification process ensures the credibility of the records.
You can create your own species list or use one generated for the Great Lakes region. You also have the choice to use the scientific name or the common name. You can note the habitat types and note the infestation’s density – low, medium, or high.
Once finished collecting the data, each report needs to be specifically submitted. Until it is, the info remains stored in your phone or tablet. This is a valuable option because you don’t need to use the data on your phone plan to submit the reports; you can wait until you have a wi-fi connection. Reports can be uploaded all at once or one at a time. The biggest downfall is there is no spinning circle to alert you that the upload is in progress. Patience is required. You will see a message on your screen when the upload is complete.
GLEDN can assist land managers especially with large tracts of land. One can decide if any and all species will be reported or only a select few. Once GLEDN has assisted with the documentation, management activities on these patches of invasives can be tracked with the Invasive Species Management Tracking System (ISMTrack). The annual cost for the management software is very reasonable. For a private landowner using ISMTrack on their property, the fee is $25/year. For non-profits, the cost is $50/site or $200 for 5+ sites. Contact WIFDN for training and additional information.
Data from this app is used inconjunction with EDDMaps (Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System), a national database of invasive species. Once the data is collected using GLEDN, downloading toEDDMaps provides mapping capabilities without needing GIS software knowledge. Additionally, as a national database, it allows us to see trends and species movement.