Citizen Science at Work: An Easy Way to Report Invasive Species

By: Megan M. Weber, Aquatic Invasive Species Extension Educator

Have you noticed an invasive species in or near your favorite water body? Reporting invasive species (both aquatic and terrestrial) has gotten even easier with the Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN) app. You can use GLEDN to report new sightings, learn identification tips, and view distribution maps of invasive species. This app provides an excellent opportunity for anyone to contribute to the invasive species distribution dataset in Minnesota and beyond.

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Reporting a potential aquatic invasive species using the GLEDN app. Photo credit: Dan Larkin

To get started, you can download the app for either iOS or Android. Once you’ve downloaded the app, go to “EDDMapS Login” to register for an account. EDDMapS (Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System) is the parent program for GLEDN.  Log in with your new account and you are ready to go!

The next time you are out, give it a try! To report a new invasive species, open the app and select either “Species Categories” to narrow down the options by type of species or “All Species” to search by name or scroll through the options. Once you’ve found the species you’d like to report, tap its name and a reporting form will appear. Fill in the information to the best of your ability. The app is able to capture your location using your phone’s GPS and will automatically record it. You can adjust the location if needed by tapping the map icon.

Be sure that you attach high-quality photos to the report by touching the camera icon. You can attach up to five images. Take some photos of the entire plant or animal as well as some close-ups of important identifying features (think flowers, leaves, colors, etc.). An image of the general area you found the specimen at is also useful. Be sure your photos are nice, clear, and in-focus before submitting.  Touch save at the bottom of the page when you are done.

Once you have saved your report, you will need to upload it. You can choose to upload it using your device’s data package or wait until you are connected to Wi-Fi to upload over the internet. From the home screen select “Upload Queue”, select the reports you would like to submit, and upload them. When they disappear from the upload queue, you will know they have been successfully submitted.

If you would like to read more about identifying features or distribution, touch the blue information icon next to the species name when it appears in the list when searching for species. This tool allows you to double check your ID before submitting a report or to see if the invasive species you found has already been reported in the same area.

Don’t have a smart device? You can still help report new invasive species! Visit www.eddmaps.org/Midwest, create a new account, and select “Report Sightings” to submit a new invasive species report. Your same login information can be used for signing in to the website and the GLEDN app.

What happens after your information is submitted? Your report will be sent to the appropriate verifiers at the agency responsible for the species you selected.  For example, aquatic invasive species (AIS) reports are sent directly to regional AIS Specialists at Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. You can view reports you have submitted at the EDDMapS website. You will receive an e-mail notification once your report has been verified.