California’s majestic oak trees have been felled by the hundreds of thousands by a disease first reported in 1995 and dubbed “sudden oak death.”
To get a broader perspective on the disease, UC Berkeley scientists have developed a smartphone app for hikers and other nature lovers to report trees they find that have succumbed to sudden oak death. While out in a park or forest, iPhone users can use the new OakMapper mobile application to report sightings of trees killed by Phytophthora ramorum, the plant pathogen that causes sudden oak death.
Onsite, they can note the symptoms they see, such as seeping, bark discoloration, crown discoloration, dead leaves, shoot die-back, fungus, beetle frass and beetle bore holes. The OakMapper app uses the phone's built-in GPS to identify the participant’s location when the data is submitted. “Many of the challenging natural resource problems that we face today – like invasive species, fire, climate change – are large in spatial scale and impact diverse public groups’, “Addressing these challenges often requires coordinated monitoring, efficient data collection, and increased communication and cooperation between scientists and citizens.
For more information about OakMapper and its app, visit oakmapper.org. The OakMapper app can be downloaded for free from the iTunes app store.