The intersection of mobile computing and citizen science offers novel paths to data collection. The ability to take a photo of a specimen or location of interest without having to manually record locations and other details typical of field notes, but still have that data accessible, allows for ecologically minded citizens to contribute data without needing to be formally trained ecologists themselves. We are developing a mapping application that functions as an interface between researchers seeking specimens or places of interest for fieldwork, and individuals interested in science and ecology but may not necessarily be a part of the research community. Individuals are able to record sightings and species locations of interest to themselves, and others can access the geotag data to see if there is any useful information for their own purposes.
The pilot implementation has resulted in the creation of a map and database of areas of interest to a variety of people. Individuals tended to tag areas of personal interest, usually because of potential foraging or in situ farming opportunities. So far, over 1000 photos have been taken, and about 70% geotagged plants that were directly useful to humans such as being edible or producing dye. 20% of photos geotagged persistent invasive species. The remaining 10% of photos geotagged vulnerable species or areas frequent by vulnerable species. Creating a shared database of these locations enables individuals to locate and contribute to a map of ecosystem services, and expand the body of knowledge about their local environment.