Want to Hunt Down Invasive Plants in Your Forest? There’s an App for That!

SRS Announces New Invasive Plants iPhone App

Southern Research Station (SRS) Director Rob Doudrick  recently announced the release of the first version of a new iPhone/iPad app designed to help southern forest land owners and managers identify and manage nonnative invasive plants in the field.

This is the first ever iPhone/ipad application developed by the worlds largest forest research organization, USDA Forest Service Research and Development.

Funded by a grant from the SRS Insects, Diseases and Invasive Plants unit, the University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health (also known as Bugwood) developed the app, which is based on the popular SRS publication A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests and a companion management guide.

“Jim Miller, who is lead author for both of the source publications, is one of the foremost authorities on invasive plants in the South,” said Doudrick. “We’re proud to offer this free app, called appropriately Invasive Plants in Southern Forests, as another of our efforts to reach specific users who can more readily identify and learn about invasive plants.”

Nonnative plants from across the world continue to invade the forests of the southern United States, spurred on by wildfire, hurricanes, changing temperature ranges, and land use change. Incursions of nonnative plants impact forest productivity, hinder recreational use and management activities, and change native plant diversity and wildlife habitat.

Since SRS published Millers first invasive plants guide in 2003, the Station has distributed more than 200,000 copies of the guide to people and groups across the South. Miller co-authored the guide with SRS research technician Erwin Chambliss and Auburn University extension specialist Nancy Loewenstein.

In 2010, SRS also published A Management Guide for Invasive Plants of Southern Forests, in which Miller and co-authors Auburn University weed management specialist Stephen Enloe and Steven Manning, president of Invasive Plant Control, Inc., provided detailed recommendations for prevention and control of nonnative invasive plants. The guides have been featured prominently on the Bugwood website since the first publication in 2003.

“We’ve worked with the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health on many projects over the years, and it seemed a natural fit for them to develop the app,” said Doug Streett, project leader of the SRS Insects, Diseases, and Invasive Plants unit. “Having them develop the app also provides the capacity to move to the next step of using the app to report and map infestations of specific plants.”

Miller’s guide divides nonnative invasive plants into trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, ferns, and forbs, providing identification keys and photos and management recommendations. The new app provides photos and information to enable users to identify the 56 nonnative plants and plant groups that are currently invading the forests of the 13 Southern States. It also includes recommendations for prevention and control from the 2011 publication.

Comments are invited on this version of the app to inform continued improvements and added functions. Future versions will include the ability to directly report new sightings of select species into EDDMapS, a mapping database that allows users to report new sightings of invasive plants tied to GPS location and photos taken on the spot. EDDMapS encourages users to “map it,” zap it,” and “map it again” to record the effects of on-the-spot treatment on the spread of nonnative invasive plants.

“When the idea for creating this app came up, I naturally thought of Bugwood,” said Miller. “Ultimately we hope this app will give managers and volunteers a good tool to go out and identify invasive plants and through EDDMapS, map their occurrence and pinpoint the leading edges of specific species. Right now the app also gives the user options for treatment they can use on the spot if they’re prepared.”

To download the free app, go to the Apple iTunes store.

Provide comments at the iTunes Website or email Chuck Bargeron at Bugwood at cbargero@uga.edu.

Access the guides online:

A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests

A Management Guide for Invasive Plants in Southern Forests