From amateur to ecologist?

| 24th July 2019
Rabbit
Flickr
Free mammal tracking app allows users to build a personal library of sightings.

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How often have you been a passenger in a car and counted the foxes, badgers, deer and rabbits that you’ve seen (alive or dead) on the roadside? What about all the mammals you’ve seen whilst you’re out on your morning dog walk or weekend stroll?

These sightings feel significant, but how can you report them? The Mammal Society have developed a user-friendly app, Mammal Mapper, that enables you to capture these records on your phone, as you go, recording not only species details but also time and location.

The Mammal Society have just launched a brand new version of their free Mammal Mapper app, with easier recording and merging of the functions of their two older apps, Mammal Tracker and the original Mammal Mapper. The updated app, which previously allowed users to map an entire route and the mammals seen along it, also now allows users to log one-off sightings.

Wildlife conservation

Users of the app are therefore able to build a library of the mammals and mammal signs they have spotted, as well as the routes they have followed. This information can then be submitted to help scientists and data analysts understand more about the distribution of mammals across Britain.

The Mammal Society’s Science Officer Frazer Coomber said: “Feedback from users of both of our apps told us that users wanted to be able to record one off sightings, as well as record mammals spotted along a route.

"On top of this we’ve improved the scope and content of our ID guides to include more information as well giving more sign and observation options which means that people can now record feeding remains, roadkill and other indicators of mammal presence.”

The app also now contains a field to enter a Survey ID meaning that users can take part in dedicated surveys being run by the Mammal Society and essentially become ecologists.

Over the next few months the public are invited to take part in the charity’s “Walk This Water Way” citizen science project. Users of the app are being asked to walk along waterways and use the Mammal Mapper app with “WTWW” as the Survey ID, whilst recording sightings of semi aquatic mammals such as otters, American mink and water voles.

As it’s been ten years since the last National Otter Survey, the charity are particularly keen to re-evaluate otter distribution across the UK and see much of the UK has been recolonised by these animals. Whether you’re on a solo walk or out with the family, this is a fun way of recording what you’ve seen, and even what you haven’t seen, and contributing towards wildlife conservation.

Incredible information 

Frazer explained: “With the data uploaded from the app we can identify where people are actually looking for mammals and where they aren’t.

"At the very least, this tells us that the gaps on our maps don’t necessarily mean that there are no mammals there, but rather people aren’t looking there. This is incredibly useful information and means that users can contribute to conservation efforts at zero cost while simply going about their daily business.”

Do you want to get involved? For more information about the Mammal Mapper App, visit the website

Image: tsaiproject, Flickr

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