Ilmenau (GER), April 2020 - The "Flora Incognita" research team is pleased to announce a substantial increase in the use of their identically named smartphone app used to identify wild flowering plants by photo and to collect digital observations.
In the "Flora Incognita" project, scientists from the Technical University of Ilmenau and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena are working on interdisciplinary methods for automatic plant identification. The use of the Flora Incognita app has increased tremendously: In March 2020, the project team recorded roughly 15,000 plant identifications per day, a tenfold increase compared to the same period last year.
"We can clearly see that people are focusing on what surrounds them. We have got a lot of positive feedback in recent weeks that suggests that the awareness of biodiversity has increased and that people enjoy expanding their knowledge of species on long walks through their immediate surroundings," says Professor Patrick Mäder, computer scientist and head of the Flora Incognita project in Ilmenau.
The team is currently receiving many enquiries from schools and universities that want to integrate the app into their teaching and eLearning activities. Specifically for teachers, the team provides worksheets for download that facilitate the design of teaching units on the subject of plant identification.
The large amount of observation data obtained enables researchers to expand their scientific evaluations. For example, the Flora Incognita team is working intensively on the basis of the data to identify changes in the temporal occurrence of species. "Compared to last year, for example, this year we have been able to record a significant shift in the flowering time of winterlings, Eranthis hyemalis," says Dr. Jana Wäldchen, sub-project manager in Jena. "With the help of such data, we can determine how the development of plants is changing and predict trends for the future".
The freely available "Flora Incognita" app enables laypeople and experts to identify wild plant species growing in Europe and adjacent areas. The app has already been installed 990,000 times, and the number of plant identifications per day ranges up to 60,000.