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New app helps track pollinator habitats that help bees, butterflies

Whether you have a small patch of cone flowers and milkweeds in a backyard garden or several acres of restored prairie, you’re encouraged to register your plot on a new mobile app. Dana Schweitzer, program coordinator of the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium, says the Habi-Tally app is designed to improve data collection about pollinator habitats of all sizes.

“Smaller bits, we know, are very beneficial for many species of pollinators,” Schweitzer says. “Anybody who’s got other land area that is included on their property and isn’t part of a current Farm Bill program, even if it’s a smaller area, all of those areas are relevant. They’re providing benefit to wildlife and we want to see them logged.” The app was developed in part by Iowa State University’s Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology for use by farmers, ranchers, landowners and private citizens.

Schweitzer says, “Having good data is really important because over time, that will help agencies such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as state agencies like Department of Natural Resources to make better decisions and better determinations about how we’re providing habitat to support species of concern throughout the state and also throughout the continental U.S.” Monarch butterflies are facing a host of challenges that have brought about a significant drop in their population in recent years. More hospitable habitat and food resources, including milkweed and nectar sources, across the primary migration route will help the monarch populations to recover.

“It’s very important to continue to keep implementing wildflower habitat, prairie habitat, native, diverse pollinator habitat in the landscape to support beneficial insects,” Schweitzer says, “but we are starting to see not only a lot of public engagement but some incremental improvements for some of those species.” All data collected through the app will be anonymous and compiled at the county level, while users will be able to see state and national accounts of efforts while logged in. Anyone can use the HabiTally app, which is available as a free download for iOS devices from the App Store.


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