Habitat degradation and invasive alien species are two principal forces that antagonistically interfere with native biological diversity of any region. Both the above are widely reported from India. Despite well-intended fiscal commitments towards biodiversity conservation at various levels, the ground reality is not always rosy. Lack of timely and actionable information on threats to biological diversity strips practical utility from a majority of studies.
Advancement in information and communication technology that enables stand-alone, distributed client-server or cloud-based applications, which access information via web interface; opens hitherto unavailable options to conservation biologists. Mobile computing platforms provide a means to seamlessly integrate concurrent conservation campaigns while precluding duplication. With in-built global positioning sensors, wireless connectivity, multi-media capabilities, browsers, etc., mobile platforms have the potential to transform biodiversity studies and boost conservation efforts. They provide an affordable means of scalable and rapid biodiversity field campaigns.
The authors present BIOTA – a BIOdiversiTy App that helps to identify and flag geographic coordinates of invasive plant species in India. The current release (Version 1.0) can identify 12 invasive plant species and record its location with time stamp on Google map. BIOTA is currently developed for Android operating system and can be downloaded from www.iiitmk.ac.in/cvrlei. Adoption of BIOTA by researchers, students and conservation enthusiasts will help to rapidly generate information on the presence of invasive species at various locations. This, in turn will help to improve prediction accuracy of invasive species distribution and to generate actionable information.
C V Raman Laboratory of Ecological Informatics at IIITM-K has developed a mobile application to map geographical distribution of plant and animal species http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/click-to-conserve/article17661449.ece
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Although it is aimed at students and researchers, BIOTA is designed for ease of use. Opening the appgives you two options – phyto diversity and zoo diversity, that is, plants and animals.
Selecting either one of them takes you to a database with the names and photos of the different species. The user needs to select the species that he/she has come across from the list, which will activate the camera of the phone. The picture, date and time, latitude and longitude of the location, IMEI number of the mobile phone and the species name will be stored in the database server. The server will flag it on Google Maps after verifying the information.