If you are an outdoor enthusiast or nature lover, the chances are you have seen amazing things on your adventures. You’ve probably even taken pictures of them and shared them on social media. If you’ve ever been curious about plants, animals or phenomenon that you would like to know more about, there’s probably an app for that. The really great thing about these mobile apps for nature lovers is that they allow you to become citizen scientists that also advance scientific research and broaden our understanding of the world around us. This post has gathered a number of apps that you can download to your mobile device to enhance your next outdoor adventures. I’ve included videos for most so that you can get a better idea of how each app is used.
iNaturalist is an outstanding app that allows nature lovers to share biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature. It helps you identify plants and animals and interact with other naturalists around the world. You can use the app to share images or identify species of animals and plants you find in your outdoor adventures such as these beautiful hurricane lilies I found on my 4-acre property.
If you’ve ever been fascinated by the little creatures that skim the surface of ponds and creeks apparently walking on water, this app is for you. It walks you through the steps of identifying these busy little bugs.
Scientists are studying the habits of squirrels and you can help them. It really doesn’t matter where you live or even if you have squirrels in your neighborhood. This app helps you become the eyes and ears of researchers by allowing you to report your findings on the area you monitor.
Project Noah is a global citizen science community. Members around the world are passionate about conservation and learning more about the plants and animals that inhabit the world. The site contains over a million geo-tagged wildlife photos submitted by members in 150 countries worldwide. Science teachers can use the images, videos and lesson plans in Project Noah’s Nature School to enhance student learning.
Another great mobile app for nature lovers connects with the iNaturalist app to come up with specific projects for each of the national parks around the country. It helps park visitors have a more in-depth experience with all the parks have to offer and helps scientists gather valuable information. Here is a bioblitz example for Little River Canyon National Preserve in AL.
Leaf Snap is a series of field guides that uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves. The site contains high-resolution images of leaves, flowers, fruits, petioles, seeds and bark.
This app allows you to identify plants by photographing them with your mobile device. all the plants you photograph are collected and analyzed by scientists around the world to better understand the evolution of plant biodiversity and to better preserve it.
Wouldn’t it be handy to know when your favorite birds are in your area? This app not only lets you identify birds, but it also keeps you updated on where various species have been spotted in real time. You can even join in on posting your own bird sightings.
This app is an archive of information about bird distribution, audio recordings, and photos. It’s a great way to gather information about birds and share information and an invaluable resource to educators and researchers.
If discovering a bird’s nest gives you the same thrill as opening a present, you will love this app. Use this app to follow the progress of bird nests from all over, and use it to keep other bird watcher’s up to date on nesting in your area.
Use this app to discover trails that are truly off the beaten path. It is also great for helping you keep track of your location and guide’s your way. I could have really used an app like this while visiting Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, AL.
Use this app to learn more about national parks near you or close to your travel route. With more than 400 national parks in the US, you are never far from outdoor adventure when traveling the country. This app goes more into depth about each park than the standard park brochures.
This app is designed specifically for Florida folks to help conservationists battle the onslaught of many harmful invasive species.The IveGot1 app makes it easy for visitors and residents to identify invasive species and report them quickly.
If you live in the Southeastern United States, you can help a corps of scientists and conservationists monitor and minimize invasive species infestations. SEEDN is a reporting and outreach program that gets your observations directly to local and state personnel who review and report sightings.
If you enjoy gulf coast beaches and swimming, you are likely to have experienced the sting of a jellyfish. This app allows you to help scientists who monitor the types and current locations of these and other marine organisms by sharing your sightings and run-ins with these organisms.
The Marine Debris Program and the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative use information gathered by users of this app to help monitor marine debris. It is just one way those of us that visit the gulf and waterways can help clean up the pollution and debris that is harmful to our ecosystem.
According to the app description, “The Loss of the Night App invites citizen scientists worldwide to take part in a research project that measures light pollution by using the human visual system as a light meter. Specifically, participants are asked to look for specific stars, and report if they can see them from their location.”
This mobile app for nature lovers allows citizen scientists to share information with NASA scientists interested in learning how clouds affect our atmosphere. NASA S’COOL has now combined with the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program creating a larger community of cloud observers across 120+ countries.
mPING allows citizen scientists to provide observations to researchers at NSSL. These reports help researchers refine algorithms that use NEXRAD radars to detect and report on the type of precipitation that occurs.
This app is used by sky watchers to report aurora sightings and track the occurrences. It’s not very useful for those of us who live on the gulf coast as northern lights are an extremely rare occurrence here.
The Fireballs in the Sky app allows you to get involved with the Desert Fireball Network research by reporting your own fireball sightings to scientists in Australia. They use your reports to track the trajectories of meteors – from their orbit in space to where they might have landed on Earth. This project is now unfunded, but still appears to be active.