The Most Popular Mobile Applications (Apps) for Invasive Plant Managers

 Collector for ArcGIS.

Collector for ArcGIS.

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

Executive Summary of Survey Results

Mobile-device applications (apps) designed to assist vegetation managers with identification, survey, and control of invasive plants are becoming more widely adopted. However, limited information is available on which apps managers are using in the U.S. and how well those apps meet user needs.

In January 2018, a web-based survey on mobile applications was emailed to invasive plant managers via TechLine Invasive Plant News, universities, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations and individuals. The purpose of the survey was to identify mobile-device applications currently used to support invasive plant management activities and share information on how individual apps ranked in terms of user satisfaction. The survey was open from January 24th to March 1st, 2018.

Respondents were asked if they used mobile apps in their invasive plant program. Those who answered “yes” were asked to provide the name of each app and indicate how satisfied they were with its performance. Respondents could list and rate a total of two apps in each of five categories. Average satisfaction rating was based on a scale of 1 to 10; 1 being completely dissatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied. App categories included plant identification, survey/mapping, management recommendations, sprayer calibration, and other. General information about respondents’ professional affiliation and geographic location was also required as part of the survey.

Demographics and Affiliation: Responses from 220 individuals across 26 states and five regions (Figure 1) were grouped into two regions for the purpose of this summary: West (Montana south through New Mexico and west to the Pacific Coast) and Midwest/East (North Dakota south to Texas and east to the Atlantic). Total responses from the West and Midwest/East regions were 143 and 77, respectively.

Figure 1: Number of survey responses by state or region in the West and Midwest/East.


Affiliation of respondents varied between the two regions. In the West, 21 percent of respondents were from private entities, including individuals, organizations, or businesses, compared to 38 percent in the Midwest/East. The remaining 79 percent of responses in the West and 62 percent in the Midwest/East were from state, federal, county, or city entities (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Respondents’ affiliation in the West and Midwest/East Region.  


Mobile App Use: Respondents from the Midwest/East were more likely to use apps as part of the invasive plant management program, compared to respondents from the West (73 percent vs. 66 percent respectively). Respondents in both regions primarily used apps for survey/mapping, followed by those used for plant identification. These two categories combined accounted for 87 percent and 91 percent of app use in the West and Midwest/East respectively (Figure 3). Sprayer calibration apps and management recommendation apps were cited the least among survey respondents.

Figure 3: Percentage of respondents using apps in each of six categories in the West and Midwest/East Region.


Invasive plant managers are using a large number of apps in their programs across the U.S. Respondents from the West cited a total of 75 different apps, compared to 44 apps cited by their Midwest/East counterparts. These results are based on a relatively small number of total respondents who use apps and replied to our survey (94 in the West and 56 in the Midwest/East). This suggests that invasive plant managers who use apps are willing to try and adopt new technology to meet program needs. In the West, app use data was heavily influenced by the number of responses from Montana, which accounted for about half of all responses received from this region.

The two apps cited by about 90 percent of respondents, regardless of region, were EDDMapS (includes regional versions) and the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) “family” of apps, with ESRI-Collector being the most frequently used. EDDMaps was cited by 55 and 64 percent of respondents using apps in the West and Midwest/East, respectively. The app was used for both plant identification and survey/mapping. ESRI was cited by 36 and 25 percent of respondents using apps in the West and Midwest/East, respectively. The app was used primarily for survey/mapping.

The third and fourth most-used apps among respondents varied by region and by category. Montana Grasses (plant identification) and Avenza PDF Maps (survey/mapping) were cited by 15 and 8 percent of respondents, respectively, in the West. In the Midwest/East, the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) and Midwest Invasive Plant Network (MIPN) were cited by 25 and 14 percent of respondents, respectively. The MISIN site was used primarily for plant identification and survey/mapping, and the MIPN site was used for plant identification, survey/mapping, and management recommendations.  

Only 8 percent of respondents from both regions combined cited apps used for management recommendations and sprayer calibration. Sprayer calibration apps were cited only by respondents from the West, which were used primarily for calculating spray mix ratios. Details regarding the names of individual apps, number of respondents using each app, satisfactory ratings, and comments are described in detailed reports for each region.

[1] TechLine Invasive Plant News, PO Box 1385 Helena MT 59624