iPad App Improves Biology Surveys

Dudek biologists now use iPhone and iPad mobile apps to collect and analyze biological survey information more efficiently.

Dudek customizes each app to the specific project and survey needs, which have included bird utilization surveys, avian point counts, vernal pool surveys, vegetation monitoring and others.

The forms are dynamic and feature logic-based input to prompt users only for the information necessary based on the data entered, said Kam Muri, the Dudek biologist heading the mobile apps project. For example, entering a species in a bird utilization survey prompts the biologist to select perched or flying. If flying is selected, the monitor is further prompted for distance, height, direction and flight behavior.

Mobile apps significantly reduce the inefficiency of recording, processing and managing paper forms (illegible handwriting, incomplete forms). Transcribing hand-written data forms is eliminated as field data from mobile apps can be accessed in real-time online or integrated to download directly into project databases and reports.

“Mobile apps are most beneficial when a lot of data is being collected over a sustained period,” Muri said. “The mobile app significantly increased the efficiency and effectiveness of ongoing weekly bird utilization surveys for a renewable energy project that has accumulated over 5,000 bird observations in more than a year of surveys.“