Instructor Darcey Shyry initiated an identification apps project for the college’s website that currently includes over 40 ID apps students can use to identify birds, plants, herptiles, fish, mammals, invertebrates and rare species.
“There are several reasons why you would use an app instead of a field guide book. At the top of the list is that your mobile device could have many field guides and include sounds--so you’re getting much more in a more compact format,” says Shyry.
Field guides are expensive to purchase and become even more so when it’s time to purchase an update. “With an app, the update doesn’t wait for the next printing, it’s done right away,” he says.
Using the apps also has other benefits including georeference data and being able to do online data submission.
“Some of the apps are free, others have a small cost,” he adds. “But the cost isn’t close to what you would have to pay for an individual field guide. Some of the guide publishers are the ones putting together the apps, so the sources are very credible.”
Links to the ID apps are available on the Lakeland College website at www.lakelandcollege.ca/IDapps.
Currently apps are available for Apple, Android, Kindle, Nook and HP TouchPad. Other platforms are expected to be adding those apps in the near future.
ID apps part of Citizen ScienceID apps are part of a larger Citizen Science web project Shyry proposed for Lakeland’s site. “Citizen Science is a perfect volunteer project for those people who prefer their tweets from birds,” he says.
Citizen Science projects enlist volunteer naturalists, outdoor enthusiasts and interested people to collect data that would be difficult, too expensive and even impossible to otherwise collect.
“It’s really a natural fit for Lakeland given not only what we teach here, but also the general attitude our students, staff and faculty have about getting involved,” he says. “Citizen Science is about public participation in scientific research. It’s also about community based biodiversity monitoring
“Annual bird counts are a good example, and we have 10 different ones on the site, but they aren’t the only things you can get involved in. There’s a real range from butterflies to squirrels, Alberta amphibians to plant watch. You can be involved as an individual, a club or a classroom.
“Hunters can also be part of this movement. For example there is a moose survey, as well as chronic wasting disease surveillance for Alberta and Saskatchewan deer and elk hunters,” he says.
Lakeland’s Citizen Science links can be found at www.lakelandcollege.ca/citizenscience.
Photo: Jenny Arts (left) uses her mobile phone to capture lady bugs that were gathering on Lakeland College's Mead Building. Photos of these beetles can be sent to the Lost Lady Bug Project, a citizen science initiative. Darcey Shyry, environmental sciences instructor and initiator Citizen Science and ID apps on Lakeland College's website stands beside her.
For more information, contact:
Environmental Sciences Instructor
780 853 8743