Must have SmartPhone Apps for the Field Ecologist and our contribution to to the smart phone app toolsPosted: August 22, 2014
The Bruno Lab has a nice series of recommendation for SmartPhone Apps for the Field Ecologist. Increasingly we find ourselves relying on our phone apps for not only data entry but also natural history, note taking, recording, remembering key must have/to do items etc. I was about to write a post about this but this lab link covers most of what the lab uses.
The potential power of smart phone apps came home to me after one of my graduate students Lindsey Sloat (seen dashing to the lab vehicle from one of her field sites in our above Lab Blog picture as well as conducting % cover plots in our RMBL research plots to the right) brought to our attention that the tedious measures of percent cover for grasses, shrub, soil, herbs etc. that we had been tallying by hand in a field book for several years could easily be entered and summed by a nice little app that enabled you to design a survey form and simply click on the box for each category to be counted. Since then there has been a proliferation of observation counting and recording apps out there.
Our contribution to the growing list of SmartPhone Apps
We (the BIEN working group) just released version 1.0 of Plant-O-Matic, a new smart phone app that will generate plant species lists for the plants that likely surround your present geographic location. It is free! What we are excited about is that this should work anywhere in North and South America (in the middle of the Amazon, on the top of a isolated mountain range, in the middle of the Yukon etc.) . This app helps answers the questions – What plants can I expect to see today? The BIEN Plant-O-Matic generates a list of plant species at 100 sq. km resolution for any location in the Americas. Pictures and information from the Missouri Botanical Garden help you identify and learn about each species. What is exciting is that this app will work for all plants (Embryophytes – bryophytes, ferns, gymnosperms, and angiosperms . . ).
Some details about our app: The BIEN Plant-O-Matic application generates a list of species in the user’s location at 100 sq. km resolution for any location in North and South America based on 3,585,449 standardized plant observations and geographic range models. With the app you can encounter ~100,000 Embryophyte species in the New World. The BIEN data represents a comprehensive effort to merge data from the world’s herbaria and ecological studies. Some geographic areas are better represented than others. While efforts were made to remove them, known issues include presence of cultivated species and over-prediction of some species geographic ranges. The application is intended as a general reference to discover the botanical diversity that likely exists around you; all data is provided “as is,” BIEN, Ocotea Technologies and their affiliates take no responsibility for the accuracy of the output. Additional details regarding the data, analysis, and other botanical tools can be found at http://bien.nceas.ucsb.edu/bien/.
As we have been developing the app it was clear that we had a long laundry list of new features and options to include in the app. In fact there were so many that it was clear we had to start bare bones and slowly add new features. So, this is the baseline version 1.0 of Plant-O-Matic. Look for updates soon with more information, a better interface, and more options to learn and discover all the plants that are found around you. We would be keen for any advice and suggestions for how to improve the app which you can submit directly to us via info[at]ocoteatech.com .
Updates to this post – Since posting several have contacted us with questions (see for example below)
Note for iPad users – Plant O Matic will work on the iPad but it is customized for the iPhone. This means that the images that are brought up on the image carousel will look low resolution – however please know you can touch or click the image and the high resolution image will then down load for you. You can two finger enlarge the image even more.
Note for Android users – We do hope to release an Android version of Plant O Matic but this will likely not be for several months. Keep checking back and thank you for your input and interest.