The AquaInvaders project was a collaboration between the The Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, the British Sub-Aqua Club, Natural Apptitude and the Biological Records Centre. These organisations joined forces to help combat the spread of the UK’s most problematic invasive, non-native freshwater aquatic species.
What did the AquaInvaders set out to achieve?
The main aim of the project was to locate incidences of a number of high priority invasive, non-native freshwater aquatic animal species. A large number of our water bodies are affected by invasive, non-native species and in many areas they have brought with them significant problems for our indigenous wildlife. This project helped to contribute towards the national picture of where these creatures are and, where possible, facilitated appropriate measures to help prevent further spread.
Why an App?
Obtaining accurate data about the distribution of invasive species is of paramount importance when it comes to assessing impact and formulating a response. But data provision is often patchy and records are usually unverifiable and lacking accurate geographic reference.
The AquaInvaders project addressed these problems by combining the development of a smartphone application with the power of crowd-sourcing data collection; that is to say the app enabled scientifically valid data to be collected by interested members of the public in the field. Critically, records collected were verifiable since they comprised a photograph along with other relevant metadata. Records were also accurately geo-located by using the phone’s inbuilt GPS capabilities, often resolving the location to a matter of metres.