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Map of Life

MOL Press

Whether it is a bird, a bug or a plant, now there is an app for that!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A NEW MOBILE APPLICATION can tell you what wildlife species, animal or plant, may be living nearby.

The app estimates your location and provides information and photos about species that could be living near your location. The app relies in the vast Map of Life (MOL) database, an international effort "that aims to advance and share the global knowledge about the distribution of biodiversity in space and time and to provide a resource for mapping and monitoring species worldwide," says Dr Walter Jetz, a senior scientist in the Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and Environment group at Imperial College London.

The MOL app currently hosts information for more than 30,000 species from around the world, including birds, mammals, amphibians, butterflies, trees, and much more.

"The app puts a significant proportion of our global knowledge about biodiversity in the palm of your hand, and allows you to discover and connect with biodiversity in a place, wherever you are," says Jetz.

The novel application, currently available for Android and Apple iOS, also comes with a recording feature, which allows users to make their own notes of new sightings or any other relevant observation, which can then be added to the MOL database and shared with the wider community.

Jetz hopes this new application will help users change the way we identify and learn about the wildlife we see when travelling, walking in the bush or even stepping out into our own backyard, he says.

The app was released last week and already users worldwide are flocking to use it, notes Jetz. "…thousands of users worldwide are already using it to discover and connect with biodiversity and share their observations with friends or the project. Map of Life research is underway to use this and other information, including remote sensing, to better map and monitor species," says Jetz.

In the future, the MOL app plans expand its database to include more species and to allow for stand-alone use, for when the celluar network is out of reach, says Jetz. "On the research front and including scientists from all over the world, the project is contributing to multiple global biodiversity status and trend assessments," he adds.

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