Everglades National Park officials are turning to technology -- an app, not surprisingly -- to help them stay on top of non-native snakes and other plant and animal species invading the park.
The park, working with the folks at the University of Georgia, have released via iTunes "IveGot1," a real-time invasive species reporting tool. With it you not only can identify non-native critters and plants, but also report them. (Unfortunately, there is not a comparable app for 'Droids.)
The project includes the app, a website with direct access to invasive species reporting, and a hotline 1-888-IVEGOT1 for instant reporting of live animals. This app allows observations of invasive species to be reported directly with an iPhone that uploads to a designated location and is e-mailed directly to local and state verifiers for review.
The goal ofthe "IveGot1" app is to make identification and reporting of these problematic species easy and efficient as possible.
According to park officials, Florida is an inviting destination for invasive species that threaten to undermine the health of the state's fragile environment. Non-native plants and animals can greatly alter the native landscape, adversely impact native wildlife, destroy agricultural crops and threaten public health.
Invasions of exotic species cost Floridians over $500 million each year, say park officials.Though significant, the economic costs are small compared to the ecological ones. Florida's public lands are highly vulnerable to invasion by exotic plant and animal species. As of today, more than 1.7 million acres of Florida's natural areas have been infested by invasive species.
This real time data collected through reported sightings of invasive animals and plants will allow scientists to better assess the extent of infestations and hopefully eradicate new infestations before they become problems such as melaleuca or Burmese pythons have become.
"IveGot1" was developed by the University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health through a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants were also part of this project.
The project was funded through the Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, which is a formal partnership of federal, state, and local government agencies, tribes, individuals, and various interested groups that manage invasive species in the greater Everglades area.
With this partnership and cooperation, has come the need to create a central location to report, share and store species sightings and distribution information.The University of Georgia's Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health supported this need through development of the web site for the Everglades CISMA that allows reporting of and information about invasive species (all taxa) in the CISMA.
The initial project, funded by the National Park Service Florida/Caribbean Exotic Pest Management Team, ended in September of 2008 and was extended with funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through September of 2012. The results of this project are available at www.evergladescisma.org. The cooperative agreement with the National Park
Service to develop the iPhone app and to continue hosting and developing of the Everglades CISMA website and EDDMapS for Florida is a five-year agreement that began in October 2010.
You can download this free app at the following link: