June 24th, 2024

‘Instagram for nature’ app will allow users to receive wildlife identification

By Jeremy Appel on August 11, 2018.


The Edmonton-based Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute has developed a new “Instagram for nature” app.

Naturelynx allows users to take a photo of wildlife at any Alberta park, upload it and have an expert identify the species within 48 hours.

Tara Narwani, a director at the ABMI, says the main purpose of the app is to enhance Albertans’ understanding of their natural surroundings.

The ABMI has its own database of discoveries made throughout the course of its research, but the goal is to get everyday people involved.

“Even though the app isn’t really part of our core activities, it is becoming more important for us to do this kind of engagement with the public … to go out into nature, make their own observations, share them broadly and get excited about what’s in their own backyard,” said Narwani.

“At the same time, they can also be providing valuable data to scientists and decision makers in the province.”

Like Instagram, the app has a newsfeed, where you can see submissions other users have made.

“It’s also supposed to be fun and help you facilitate a network of nature enthusiasts, or bird enthusiasts, or mushrooms enthusiasts, whatever it may be,” Narwani said.

Grassland Naturalists past president Dave McKenzie hasn’t used the app, but said he would download it “right away.”

He called it a “great idea,” comparing it to Bumblebee Watch, which he uses to identify bees.

“I’m familiar with the concept,” said McKenzie. “Take a picture and you can upload it right away from your smartphone to the app.”

Marty Drut of the Medicine Hat Interpretive Centre says he hasn’t used the app either, but the centre could potentially use it for future programming after its employees give it a try.

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