My 14-year-old brother has an iPod. My friends have iPhones, too. I’m waiting for the next leap in technology—the iPond. What about iPhone apps for wetlands? Wouldn’t it be neat to be able to add cool wetland apps to an iPhone? Obviously it is ideal when the applications are not only useful but also available for free to those interested in wetlands.
There are iPhone applications (apps) that could be added to an iPhone to help a person navigate using GPS. One can even add an app to identify exotic invasive species in a given area. On a regional basis, botanists have assembled data for iPhone apps that help land stewards identify plants, but I couldn’t find a national iPhone app for this purpose. One thing to keep in mind is that the iPhone apps are only as useful as the databases they pull it from, so if the data is bad, it’s not going to be a very useful tool for iPhone users. Will iPhone applications help wetland professionals make better decisions, or are these just fun tools to use in combination with observation? Users have to apply common sense.
Here is the Compleat Wetlander’s top 5 wishlist of iPhone apps for wetlands, both real (1) and desired (4):
1. iInvasive (a.k.a. “What’s Invasive?”) – this real app describes invasive plant species, and provides information on management, prevention, and existing guidelines per state or region. To learn more about “What’s Invasive?” a free app for iPhones, go to: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2009/oct/30/iphone-can-now-help-find-invasive-plants/
2. iCowardin – this desired app doesn’t exist yet but would classify wetland and deepwater habitats pin-pointed on GPS
3. iBog – this desired app would provide endless info on bogs from hydrology to pit survival strategies to the latest on bog snorkeling events! This is not be confused with a real app called “Curse of the Bog Frog,” a comedic illustrated series for kids ages 12 and up (available for download http://iphone.wareseeker.com/curse-of-the-bog-frog.app/42f7a59753 for a $1.99 fee.)
4. iStream – Similar to “streaming music” or “streaming videos,” this desired app would stream in live video feeds of streams and identify whether they are perennial, ephemeral or intermittent based on GPS coordinates. It’s currently possible to download lake fishing maps using an iPhone app, so perhaps this is not far off.
5. iPlayaLakes – not to be confused with “iPlaya” the British television service, this desired app would assist in providing information about the Playa Lakes region, maybe with live feeds from the Playa Lakes Joint Venture or related sources. In addition to this desired app, there might be others: iPrairiePotholes, iVernalPools, iMapWetlands and so forth. Lots of potential!
Update July 2010: Two new iPhone apps for wetlands have been created.
Gulf oil spill status update app for SmartPhones:
Chesapeake Bay wetland ecosystem app promoted by the Chesapeake Bay Trust
Update November 2010: Identify streams with this iPhone app:http://www.fastcompany.com/1700135/crowdsourcing-watershed-health-with-the-creek-watch-iphone-app
Update: December 2011: New mobile app features the amazing world of frogs: http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/species/?8878/New-mobile-app-features-the-amazing-world-of-frogs
Update June 2012: The iPlant Collaborative (iPlant), a virtual organization funded by the National Science Foundation with a large team located at the University of Arizona’s (UA) BIO5 Institute, announced the release of the third iteration of its web-based Taxonomic Name Resolution Service in June 2012. For more information, go to: tnrs.iplantcollaborative.org.