A new app created by scientists at the University of Ostrava enables users to recognize different species of dragonfly, learn more about their lives, and participate in research which will help to protect these ecologically valuable insects. The new app can be downloaded free of charge and is listed as Lovec vážek CZ / Dragonfly Hunter CZ. The app is the brainchild of Czech singer Dan Bárta, who works closely with biologists from the university.
This unique project run by scientists from the Department of Biology and Ecology at Ostrava University’s Science Faculty is already bringing benefits not only to experts, but also to the general public – enabling nature-lovers to learn more about these beautiful, fascinating and important insects.
The app tells users what species of dragonfly they have seen, and gives information about its life. But it’s not only for fun – people can send photographs of dragonflies together with information about the places where they were spotted, and this information is then logged in a constantly growing database that will help scientists to protect these species.
Biologist Aleš Dolný, one of the authors of the project, explained why it is important to protect dragonflies: “Dragonflies are a very important element in applied ecology. They help us to monitor global environmental changes – including climate change. We can use dragonfly data to track changes in the aquatic and terrestrial environment caused by human activity. Dragonflies are known as umbrella species – that means that if we protect them, we are also protecting many other species that are often completely unrelated to them.”
Doctoral student Stanislav Ožana, another member of the app team, gave more details about the project: “The project uses the principle of citizen science – in other words, the general public get directly involved in research projects. It’s the best way to raise people’s awareness of ecological issues. That’s the great thing about the app – it’s fun to use, people learn new things, and it also provides scientists with important new data.”
The app was the brainchild of the singer Dan Bárta, a biology enthusiast who loves dragonflies. He is a student at Ostrava’s Department of Biology and Ecology, and he is closely involved in its research activities. He has already published several books in conjunction with his colleagues; one of them won the prize for best science encyclopedia at the World of Books Prague 2017 festival and exhibition.
The app was co-developed by colleagues from the Institute for the Research and Applications of Fuzzy Modelling and the Department of Information and Computer Science. It is available free of charge from Google Play.
The scientists are also planning to configure it for the iOS operating system and to enlarge the portfolio of organisms to include different groups of species – so users can look forward to expanding their knowledge even further.
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