Identifying invasive species with technology
Alaskans can identify invasive weeds using a new free mobile app.
Gino Graziano, an invasive plants instructor with Extension, worked with the University of Georgia to develop the Alaska Weeds Identification app.
Graziano said the app will make it easier for people to identify invasive weeds and to report them if they are unsure about the identification or are concerned about the presence of invasive weeds on their property or public lands. The app provides photographs, descriptions of the plants by type or region, and management practices.
Invasive weeds of special concern are non-native plants that cause harm to ecosystems or agriculture. Graziano hopes the app will help identify invasive weeds before they get a foothold in a new area.
People who wish to send a report with an attached photo sign into a University of Georgia database on the app. That information, which provides GPS coordinates, gets routed to Graziano, who either responds to or forwards the report to other pest management experts or public land managers.
In the first five months following its August release, more than 850 people have downloaded the app for IOS mobile devices, including iPhones, or Android devices.
One of the first reports Graziano received was from a bear hunter in Cold Bay who reported Canadian thistle. Graziano said the advantage with the app is you can easily identify and report an invasive weed when you’re hiking or anywhere outdoors.
“It’s just right there at your fingertips,” he said.
• Extension also has a Citizen Monitoring Portal that also allows individuals to submit photographs of invasive plants, diseased plants and insects at http://pestreporter.alaska.edu/. Citizen reports have resulted in the eradication of purple loosestrife in Southcentral and management of giant hogweed in Kake.
• The Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative supported the creation of the app with funding from the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.