Midwest/East Region Summary: The Most Popular Mobile Applications for Invasive Plant Managers

Mobile Apps, Ratings, and Comments

By Celestine Duncan, Melissa Munson, and Nann Parrett[1]

General Overview

For the purpose of this summary, the Midwest/East Region encompasses states from North Dakota south to Texas and east to the Atlantic. In the Midwest/East, 77 invasive plant managers responded to the survey from 17 states. Sixty-one percent of total respondents were from three states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Federal, state, county, or city entities represented 62 percent of survey respondents. The remaining 38 percent were individuals, organizations, or businesses that represented entities in the private sector. Of those responding from the Midwest/East, 73 percent used mobile apps on their smartphone or tablet as part of their invasive plant management program. Details on demographics and affiliation for this survey are available at here.

Respondents from the Midwest/East cited 44 different mobile apps used in invasive plant management programs. EDDMapS (which includes regional versions) and the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) family of apps were the two most commonly used among respondents, with ESRI-Collector being the most frequently cited. EDDMaps was cited by 64 percent of respondents, and ESRI was cited by 25 percent of respondents. The third and fourth most commonly used apps in this Region were the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) and Midwest Invasive Plant Network (MIPN).

Categories for apps included plant identification, survey/mapping, management recommendations, sprayer calibration, and other. Details regarding the names of individual apps, number of respondents using each app, satisfactory ratings, and comments are described in tables below for each category.

Table 1: List of 44 Mobile Apps, average satisfaction rating, and number of respondents using the app in each category. Average satisfaction rating was based on a scale of 1 to 10; with 1 being completely dissatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied. Apps are organized by number of respondents using them (most to least cited).

 

Average Satisfaction Rating (# of respondents) in Each Category

APP NAME

PLANT ID

SURVEY/MAPPING

MANAGEMENT RECOMMEND.

SPRAYER CALIBRATION

OTHER

GLEDN/EDDMapS

7.00 (14)

7.95 (22)

ESRI, Collector, Survey 123, etc

 

 

 

 

 

ESRI

5 (1)

Arc View/Beehive

9 (1)

Collector

8 (9)

ArcPad

8 (1)

Survey 123

7 (2)

MISIN, https://www.misin.msu.edu/

7 (5)

7.9 (8)

9 (1)

MIPN

 

 

 

 

 

MIPN control database

 

7.3 (3)

9 (2)

 

 

MIPN Landscape Alternatives

6.5 (2)

8 (1)

iNaturalist

8.2 (6)

9 (2)

iMapInvasives

9.4 (5)

Google Earth/Maps

8.7 (3)

ID Weeds (Univ. of Missouri)

6 (3)

vTree, Virginia Tech

9 (2)

ISM Track pilot

8 (2)

Minnesota Wildflowers

10 (2)

Avenza

8 (1)

Backcountry Navigator Pro

9.00 (1)

BASF Weed ID

8.00 (1)

Bayer Vegetation Management

 (1) no ranking

Compass on iPhone

9 (1)

DroneDeploy

10 (1)

EpiCollect5

9 (1)

Find My Car

9 (1)

Google Lens

3 (1)

GPS Essentials

7 (1)

iBioControl (bugwood.org)

5 (1)

iForm (Zerion Corp.)

6 (1)

Illinois Wildflower

7 (1)

In House

8 (1)

KoBo toolbox

9 (1)

LocusMaps

10 (1)

MapItFast, AgTerra

8 (1)

NDAWN

9 (1)

ONX MAPS

9 (1)

PictureThis

3 (1)

PlantSnapp

7 (1)

SDCES Thistles

3 (1)

SEEDn

7 (1)

Tree Key

6 (1)

Weed ID (not specific)

7 (1)

weedid.wisc.edu

10 (1)

Pl@ntNet, Pl@ntNet Consortium

8 (1)

XHUNT

9 (1)

Go Botany (not an app)

8 (1)

NDSU Weed Control Guide – website

 

Comments on apps cited and reviewed by more than three respondents in the Midwest/East are listed below by mobile app name. The average satisfaction rating and number of respondents are shown for each category.

 

GLEDN/EDDMaps (36)

The Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN) application is stored within EDDMaps Midwest. This is a collaborative effort among multiple stakeholders working to rapidly respond to new invasive species sightings in the Great Lakes and Midwestern states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio).

Plant ID = 7 (13)

1.     GLEDN offers many great photo resources and has the ability to collect regional data putting it in the hands of land managers. Great as a public tool. I wish you could view multiple species at once, as well as, log more than one species at once.

2.     Good photos and info on most species. Some missing info.

3.     App is limited by number of species and available pictures (which makes sense to limit app size) which makes me not rank it higher.

4.     comprehensive guide for invasive plants of upper midwest region, good photos

5.     This app would be great, except it is too broad in scale and the application is so large, that it is not practically useful for the community I work with.

6.     setup for monitoring not ID

7.     I'd like more photos at different growth stages.

8.     This app is very useful during training.

9.     Does not have similar species .

10.   Chuck Bargeron of EDDMaps has been great for organizations to work with for developing these apps. He is to be commended.

Survey/Mapping = 7.8 (23)

1.     GLEDN offers many great photo resources and has the ability to collect regional data putting it in the hands of land managers. Great as a public tool. I wish you could view multiple species at once, as well as, log more than one species at once. I also hoped I could load backgrounds onto our devices to map without using data, but this is not an option.

2.     Easy to use in the field, but I don't like that I have to go back to my computer to verify and download the reports. I often can't get it to work properly. I fully acknowledge that it is due to my own minimal abilities with apps and technology.

3.     I really like this app for reporting invasive locations.

4.     easy to use system for everyone from citizen scientists to professionals.

5.     Lots of things to like, only a few suggestions are photos uploaded lack resolution so upload SRL Camera photos when back in office sometimes. May be necessary for data file size mgt. After a while in the field often started putting me in the middle of Kansas so would have to zoom out a zoom back in to Minnesota. Also, a compass needle would be very helpful while in the app.

6.     Does not help with navigating to known infestations for treatment crews.

7.     I would like to be able to see the name of the park or parcel at a glance. I never see that when reports are made on the GLEDN app. I don't personally use this app, but have had to verify reports made with GLEDN.

8.     Great for midwest....

9.     Same response as previous question.

10.   I rely heavily on EDDMapS. I recommend this app for my most experienced volunteers. Its advantage over GLEDN is that I can see the name of the parcel affected at a glance, rather than having to zoom in on the map when I receive my EDDMapS email report alerts.

11.   Wish you could make polygons in the field around an infestation.

12.   Generally works well, but it would be helpful to be able to review the quality of pictures in a larger format before uploading.

13.   This app is invaluable for our 'first detector' volunteers and is useful for sharing data.

14.   Very easy for me to use as a R2ED volunteer for my local parks system and to report noxious weeds throughout the state. Reports seem to go smoothly to the right people. Easy photo and GPS marking, and the ID info is helpful for a quick refresher on species I am not as familiar with. I can also easily recheck spots marked by others when I am in the area. I use it everywhere I go geocaching or hiking in addition to official surveys. I like how is syncs with EDDMapS. The only thing I would add would be a navigator dot for my position to aid in rechecking prior infestations.

Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) Family of Apps (14)

ESRI is a supplier of geographic information system software, web GIS, and geodatabase management applications used for survey/mapping and spatial data analytics. The majority of respondents listed survey/mapping as the primary use of these apps. Data and comments were combined into the survey/mapping category for this summary, since this is the primary purpose of this family of apps.

Unspecified: Survey/Mapping = 5 (1)

Collector: Survey/Mapping = 8 (9)

1.     An ARCGIS geodatabase must be set up by the user prior to use.

2.     Nearly everything we do related to biology is now done through this app. Photo-monitoring, mapping invasives, mapping treatment routes, displaying property boundaries, marking threatened or endangered species, marking infrastructure, etc.

3.     Helps treatment crews navigate to known infestations as well as record new infestations.

4.     An ARCGIS Geodatabase must be set up by the user prior to use.

5.     Collector by ESRI has changed the way biology is being done here at this Refuge. I highly recommend anyone to consider using it as their way of collecting data.

ArcPad: Survey/Mapping = 8 (1)

1.     Very useful. Cumbersome, time consuming, and technical to set up. Inaccessible to the general public.

Survey123: Survey/Mapping = 7 (2)

1.     So far have not been able to link Survey123 forms to our GIS, so mostly use Collector instead.

Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) (14)

MISIN smartphone app provides a mobile solution for the capture of invasive species field observation data.

Plant ID = 7 (5)

1.     Huge database of midwest invasive species that can be contributed to by anyone with the app. Fairly easy to use in the field and allows you to upload information and a photo of the invasive. Even more useful to managers is the ability to browse data by location or species and keep up to date on new infestations that may be popping up in your service area.

2.     We use this to make populations of invasive species known to the greater scientific community.

3.     Has some plants that are not "invasive" where I am working, and even one considered native. This is confusing to newer staff that do not have a strong botany/invasives-science background.

Survey/Mapping = 7.9 (8)

1.     MISIN is very useful and not difficult to understand, I just wish it wasn't such a large app.

Treatment records = 9 (1)

Midwest Invasive Plant Network (MIPN) (8)

MIPN Control Database (5 respondents)

This is not an app but the website is mobile-compatible so information can be accessed via browser on phone; however, this site was included under the main category of MIPN.

Survey/Mapping = 7.3 (3)

1.     Provides basic function. Slow and clunky on larger data sets (e.g., Phragmites).

2.     We use this to make populations of invasive species known to the greater scientific community.

Management Recommendations = 9 (2)

1.     Use on desktop or via browser on phone, not app.

2.     Not enough species.

MIPN Landscape Alternatives: Plant ID = 6.5 (2); Management Recommendations = 8 (1)

Lists invasive species with native and exotic non-invasive alternatives, also includes an abundance of pictures, descriptions of key species identifiers, ecological threats for invasive species, and ideal growing conditions for alternatives.

1.     I like the MIPN Landscape Alternatives app.

iNaturalist (8)

iNaturalist helps identify plants and animals, and record and share observations with scientists/naturalists. Is used by general public and citizen scientists.

Plant ID = 8.2 (6)

1.     I love iNaturalist for reporting native species, and it has a new feature that uses pattern recognition of your photo plus observations submitted nearby to guess the ID. It can be right on sometimes, but other times out of the ballpark.

2.     I haven't used it much, but it looks good and easy to use.

3.     Not really made as an ID app, but it works that way.

4.     Overall, I feel it is accurate but definitely not 100% of the time. Sometimes you need a person to correctly identify it before the app recognizes which species it is.

Survey = 9 (2)

1.     I get data from others from this. It is easy to access, but the data in this app is very difficult to pull into our GIS database of all invasive plant records in the state. We have to re-enter them one by one in a separate database.

iMapInvasives: Survey/Mapping = 9.4 (5)

The iMapMobile app allows for invasive species reporting for citizen scientists and professionals. You can report invasive species locations by using your mobile device's camera and GPS, even when out of connectivity range.

1.     Indispensable NYS data collection tool.

2.     Great for simple observation mapping. Wish it had polygon mapping for the field (like it does on the computer interface). Only available if a state has set up the system.

3.     The iMap App is great for mapping invasive plant point locations. You can cache data out of connectivity and upload it later. There is a built in photo capture prompt. You can include written comments. You can customize the species list so you don't have to scroll through many species when picking from lists. You do need to first be a registered iMapInvasives user in one of the states or provinces where iMapInvasives is maintained (it is not currently available nation-wide).

4.     This app is easy to use to document the location of an invasive species while out in the field. It doesn't require Wifi to use, but to upload your observation data to the main database, you will need to return to an area with Wifi to then upload the observations.

5.     More information on the iMapInvasives mobile app can be found here: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/ed0c71_ba9312ff536b41118f15f78b26a0ada2.pdf

 

Ratings and Comments on Apps cited by three or fewer respondents are described below.

 

Plant Identification

 

 

APP NAME (# OF RESPONDENTS)

RATING

COMMENTS

ID Weeds (U. Missouri) (3)

6

Haven't really used it much, so can't fully judge its usefulness

Minnesota Wildflowers (2)

10

Not sure they are still supporting their app, but this site is exceptional and contains great photos and detailed and accurate information to discriminate native lookalikes vs. invasive species. Includes shrubs vines & trees also. Developed by the folks at minnesotawildflowers.info, the app has fewer species than the website, but species are added regularly.

vTree, Virginia Tech (2)      

9

Great for woody plants and trees

BASF Weed ID (1)

8

It allows you to take a picture of the plant

Weed ID (1)

7

none

weedid.wisc.edu

10

Not setup for mobile use....

www.plantnet-project.org,
Pl@ntNet, Pl@ntNet Consortium (1)

8

The ability to take a photo of a plant and have it auto-ID is nice, and it actually works with pretty good accuracy most of the time. That being said, I rarely actually use it, as myself and I think most invasive species managers already know how to identify our target invasives.

Go Botany (1)

8

This is not an app, but a website. It's valuable enough that I access it in the field when in connectivity. I wish it were an app!

Illinois Wildflower (1)

7

This is not a specific invasive plant app, but includes multiple species. I like how you can search on it and it has great information on those species, but it also is limited on number of species.

PictureThis (1)

3

none

PlantSnapp (1)

7

none

Tree Key (1)

6

Helpful for common trees and shrubs in WI, appears to need update to work with newer versions of iOS

 

Survey/Mapping

 

 

APP NAME (# OF RESPONDENTS)

RATING

COMMENTS

Google Earth/Maps (3)

8.3

Use at times in the field to supplement GLEDN to verify location or position in the region

Invasive Species Management (2)
tracking (ISMtrack)

8

Provides integrative features that are very useful overlaying EDDMapS/GLEDN; only available in WI and MN

Backcountry Navigator Pro (1)

9

none

Find My Car (1)

9

Saves gps points

XHUNT (1)

9

none

GPS Essentials (1)

7

none

KoBo Toolbox (1)

9

Free, easy to create custom data entry forms

LocusMaps (1)

10

none

MapItFast, AgTerra (1)

8

none

ONX MAPS (1)

9

I only used the free trial version for a brief time last field season, but I intend to buy the full version this coming field season. The ability to have satellite imagery with property boundaries and ownership names, as well as a real-time location, is incredibly useful in the field.

SEEDn (1)

7

Fairly easy interface. Only allows the mapping of one polygon at a time, multiple polygons on a screen would be handy. Point record data is easy to glean from the EDDmaps website, but polygon data is either unavailable or I am unaware of how to view and download this data.

DroneDeploy (1)

10

none

EpiCollect5 (1)

9

Excellent substitute for having to collect data on paper and transfer to electronic form, but can’t get areas just GPS points

 

 

 

 

Other

 

 

APP NAME (# OF RESPONDENTS)

RATING

COMMENTS

Compass on iPhone (1)

9

To navigate in cloudy or heavy forested locations. Secondary lat long info as well.

iBioControl (bugwood.org) (1)

5

iBiocontrol has a lot of promise but needs development/funding

iForm (Zerion Corp.) (1)

6

Useful replacement for certain paper forms

In House (1)

8

Developed In House

MISIN, https://www.misin.msu.edu/ (1)

9

Huge database of midwest invasive species that can be contributed to by anyone with the app. Fairly easy to use in the field and allows you to upload information and a photo of the invasive. Even more useful to managers is the ability to browse data by location or species and keep up to date on new infestations that may be popping up in your service area.

 

General Comments from Midwest/East

1.     This is a very valuable survey and I am interested in it's results.

2.     In general, it would be ideal if all of these apps were set up with similar software and data fields so the data could be consolidated and shared. It works with some, but not others.

3.     We would like to use apps but are confused with compatibility with our ARC GIS system and tablet readability in the field

4.     I am interested in using mobile apps, but not sure what is available.

5.     Maybe use app some day. No expertise on staff. Trimble GPS only

6.     I’d like to use an app. We were trying S1 but it kept crashing so we gave up.

7.     Have used GIS apps and ED Maps West in the past, but too clunky, technical, and not convincing enough to continue

8.     I am very interested to see a full list of apps currently in use. I hope this will be published in the results!

9.     We are happy with Garmin GPS with good base maps and data pre-loaded.

10.   With no cell coverage at my rural home and little or none in much of my county and at my field sites, it's not worth it to pay for a phone and data package. Maybe when broadband REALLY comes to the Upper Peninsula we can test some of these apps.

11.   Not a very useful survey

12.   I am looking into options for mapping invasives. Just met with someone this morning who gave me an overview of what I can do with ArcGIS and the Collector app. I can't wait to see what Techline will recommend.

13.   I use GLEDN personally but not for Management of National Forest lands.

14.   Would like basic identification tools to train private landowners

15.   Doing the survey is a great idea. I'm anxious to read what people like. I don't have a big invasive plant problem on my farm but I use the old ESRI, which is now Explorer for ArcGIS. I can draw polygons and boundaries on it and measure acres, etc.

16.   I also use Google Earth for the same things.

17.   I am retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and spent 30 years in Refuges.

 


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