The Ecology Lab at the University of Waterloo started off the new academic term adding of two new collections on their app. By visiting www.env-apps.uwaterloo.ca/collections/ students can gain access to four different collections of plant and animal species. The app is divided by birds, lichen, flora, invertebrates, and the perfect tool for anyone who needs their ecology info while they are on the go.

The app holds information on 1,671 different flora, 37 bugs, 67 birds, and 69 lichens. Having a mobile identification source is a great resource for students in this area, not just as an educational tool, but also as a way to learn more about how the ecosystem around UW works together.

The best part of the app is that if students to have specimens they would like to add to the collection, they can do so. Ecology Lab co-ordinator Bev Raimbault told Imprint: “Students can definitely bring in their own specimens for us to add to the collection. In fact, most of the pieces in the current collection were collected by students.”

“The specimens in the app are all from the general local area but we do have some from farther north — from northern Ontario,” said Reaimbault. “We hope to expand the collection as best we can. We don’t have any mammal specimens on the app right now because we haven’t got any in the lab. We have some skulls we could add, who knows?”

The app provides a search engine for all samples kept by the Ecology Lab. Each item page provides a link to Google or Wikipedia. Specific information is also displayed alongside clear pictures of each species. For plants, budding botanists can see the full Latin taxonomy and classification for each plant as well as common nicknames and their general location of growth.

For the hopeful ornithologist, the app is a wealth of information including: a bird’s size dimensions, habitat, and feeding habits. For many students, this app is a great way to see local birds up close. Detail on a cedar waxwing or European starling is tough to see and appreciate in motion but with this app anyone can take the time to study the beauty of the different species on campus, according to Raimbault.

Students like Natalie Maduri are excited to have this wealth of information at their fingertips. “There have been a few times where I’ve seen a bird or plant and wanted to know more about it. But you can’t search for it if you have no clue what it is. This app helps me narrow down my searches to creatures and plants on campus,” said Maduri, a third-year English student. “I’m not in biology or anything but I still like to know what’s around me. This app is perfect for that.”

Other students are pleased with the app’s breadth of information and visuals. Erin Campbell, a graduate student and novice artist said, “I sometimes like to sketch nature but it’s very tough with moving objects. I like the app because I can see details on leaves or tiny feathers on birds that I might otherwise miss.”

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