EDDMapS is a web-based mapping system for documenting invasive species (both plant and animal) distribution. It is fast, easy to use and doesn’t require Geographic Information Systems (GIS) experience. Launched in 2005 by the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia, it was originally designed as a tool for state Exotic Pest Plant Councils to develop more complete distribution data of invasive species.
Chances are you’ve already encountered an invasive species today and didn’t even notice. The Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System, or EDDMapS, is on an active mission to change this. EDDMapS is an online mapping system that tracks the distribution of invasive species. With an emphasis on ease of use, EDDMapS allows anyone, regardless if they have GIS experience or not, to log an instance of an invasive species they’ve encountered. The platform seeks to “maximize the effectiveness of accessibility of the immense numbers of invasive species observations recorded each year.” According to the program’s website, it has amassed over 3.1 million records since June 2017.
So how does EDDMapS work? If you read our coverage last month on eBird, a web map and data repository for bird sightings, you’ll note the strong similarities between the two programs. Like eBird, EDDMapS crowdsources information from thousands of users to create a better picture of the current extent of invasive species. With this information, scientists are able to better assess the situation in a given area with a particular species as well as predict future distribution with greater accuracy. As entering this information is as user-friendly as possible, EDDMapS ensures that the greatest number of potential contributors will add invasive species sightings to its existing database. Finally, all data is reviewed by state verifiers to ensure that it is accurate. Once verification is complete, the compiled information is “made freely available to scientists, researchers, land managers, land owners, educators, conservationists, ecologists, farmers, foresters, [and] state and national parks.
Curious if there is an invasive species in your midst? I just logged an Asian Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in my living room, so you never know what you might find! To learn more about EDDMapS and check out the database, visit: www.eddmaps.org.