Mobile logging of your dragonfly and damselfly sightings!
The Dragonfly ID App is off to a good start thanks to many generous donations and support from OdonataCentral, the Xerces Society, the Dragonfly Society of America. Many of you have emailed us to ask for an update. Our partnership with OdonataCentral continues! The OdonataCentral Mobile App, or OdeLog for short, will allow you to record checklists of odes you observe in the field.
The goal of this project is simple: hundreds if not thousands of people keep extensive records of the odes they observe in notebooks, Excel spreadsheets or homemade databases. Unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of these potentially important observations make there way into a common database that can be used for citizen science – iNaturalist, Odonata Central, the MDP database or into print. Our goal is to make this valuable information available to the public – hobbyists, enthusiasts, and scientists.
As early supporters of eBird, we believe that it is an excellent model of how to set up a citizen science project. Not only is eBird fun and easy to use, perhaps most importantly, the data are useful to scientists for large-scale population monitoring of population, seasonality and distribution.
To accomplish our goal of building the “eBird for Odes”, we will follow these guiding principles:
- All the observations will go into OdonataCentral/MDP.We don’t believe it makes sense to create another separate citizen science database. Instead we would prefer to see our efforts go towards improving an already excellent database. Note that OdonataCentral and the MIgratory Dragonfly Partnership share an underlying database.
- Our goal is to maintain three types of data. One type will be the Odonata Central records that have passed their careful vetting process. These will mostly consist of rare sightings or difficult to identify species. Second will be publicly shared data that can be accessed by all users that go through a less rigorous automatic vetting process (under development) and will consist of more common species. Finally all your personal records will be maintained in the database regardless of their vetting status so you can always access your own data and maintain your own lists. You will be able to filter the data to only see the data type you want.
- Users will be encouraged to enter complete checklists of the odes observed in a specified time and location, including counts.Our goal is not only to focus on recording sightings of rare species but to also encourage sightings of common species, because this information is the most valuable in understanding the long term trends for the health of ode populations and their habitats.
- Checklists should be associated with an observation protocolThe observation protocol indicates the type and level of effort that went into recording the sightings. Protocol encompasses things like distance traveled, time spent, area surveyed, etc.
- Users should be encouraged and enabled to identify dragonflies to the best of their ability, but not beyond.We will provide the option to report things like: “Northern/Boreal Bluet”, “Bluet sp.”, Libellula sp. or even just “Dragonfly sp.” If users aren’t sure, we don’t’ want to force them to guess.Users should be encouraged and able to report odes in all of their life stages.
You can help make this happen! This project is not expected to earn money. Everyone involved in this project is doing it out of a sense of just how valuable (and awesomely fun!) it would be to have this tool available for ourselves and other nature lovers. If you are interested in helping as a tester, as a user, as a contributor of text or photos, or financially please get in touch! Click the “donate now” button or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
More details: Our goal is to make this simple first step available this summer, and we hope it will be before the peak of the dragonfly & damselfly season in most of the US and Canada. Here is a very rough outline:
- It will connect with the OdonataCentral / Migratory Dragonfly Partnership database. Submissions will be tied to OdonataCentral user accounts. New users will need to set up OC accounts to submit sightings.
- Currently we don’t have funding for several critical features including the interface to submit of photos from the app
- The app will be based on BirdLog (on both Android and iOS). We plan to roll out iOS first and then Android. Note: Last year, when we transferred BirdLog to Cornell it was arguably the most successful nature-related citizen science app in the world!
- Clearly the data will be of a different type than the 100% vouchered data currently in OC and in that sense will be more like MDP data. We do not want to (pick your favorite pejorative) “dilute” that data with unvetted submissions . On the other hand, we do believe that this new data will be valuable and should be available through the OC website. So we will find ways to allow users to view just traditional OC data, this new OC data or both together.
- Initially it will only be possible to submit data through the Dragonfly Checklist app, but we plan to build out the portions of the OC website that will allow OC users to submit observations online as well. There will be many significant limitations to the system when it is first rolled out as you might expect for any new system.