The Falkland Islands offer to their inhabitants, local and overseas researchers and tourists an incredible and amazing display of wildlife. Penguins, albatrosses, sea lions, elephant seals, dolphins, whales, butterflies, raptors and other birds, tussac and the native flora are the treasures of these islands. Nevertheless, the remoteness and the difficult/expensive access to most places are limiting factors above all when it comes to map the distribution of wildlife (species).
Researchers working on long term monitoring programs in general are tied to the location of their fieldwork (New Island, Sea Lion, Volunteer Point, Cape Dolphin and so on) and they make few trips to other places to assess the wildlife population which is the focus of their scientific projects. On the contrary, the islanders and the tourists have a much higher mobility and are more distributed across the islands. With their sightings, both islanders and tourists can really help researchers and contribute to enhance their understanding on species distribution.
Open Data Kit (ODK) is an open source application for field data collection. Thanks to the idea of its developer to make the app open and free, the GIS and data manager of SAERI in collaboration with Giovanni Manghi (owner of NaturalGIS) used the app to develop a wildlife data collector form tailored for the Falklands. SAERI, Falklands Conservation and EPD are inviting people to test the form that is currently focussed on dolphins, whales, orcas and seals (elephant seals, sea lion, fur seals and leopard seals).
The goal is to have between 10 and 15 volunteers, scattered across the islands (some in Stanley although the target is people living in camp) who have already an interest in wildlife and would like to share, for a couple of weeks their sightings with local and overseas researchers. The role of the volunteers is crucial as we will know whether or not the app is user-friendly, easy to use and effective in terms of final results. We need to understand what works and what doesn’t before promoting the app to everyone living and visiting the islands this coming season.
The app works only on Android smartphones and it can be downloaded from google play store. It has a small size (4 mega) and it is free. Internet connection is only needed for downloading the app and the wildlife data collector form. Afterwards the form can be filled in without internet connection. Internet is needed again to send the form back to SAERI.
Note: i-phones require licences that are not compatible with the standard licence of open source. To make an app for i-phones there is a cost. We are working for alternative solutions.