New UF-developed Android app helps public identify campus trees
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new Android phone app is available free to help nature lovers who want to know more about the trees that grow on the University of Florida campus.
The app identifies more than 35 species, everything from the sugarberry to the Ogeechee tupelo, and gives information about each, such as the birds and insects most likely to use it for food and shelter.
It also provides maps showing the locations of the trees on the UF campus so that users can find them with their phone’s GPS, and even includes quizzes to test users’ knowledge, said Emilio Bruna, a wildlife ecology and conservation associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The app was recently released and can be downloaded through the Android Market by searching for the UF Campus Tree Guide, he said.
Graduate students in Bruna’s plant-animal interactions course began work on the app as an assignment during the fall 2010 semester, he said. A student programmer was hired to help them with the logistics.
Bruna said he thought it would be fun and relevant for students to work on a project that required them to create something useful for the public. Opportunities for app development are nearly endless, Bruna said, and he said practical assignments for students can often be more useful to them than writing term papers.
Anthony Lau, who graduates this month with a master’s degree in wildlife ecology and conservation, said the small class enjoyed creating something for today’s technologically savvy student. As a teaching assistant in another course, Lau said he had thought a mobile field guide – much like the app his class created — would be helpful for students.
“I think the idea that we worked on something that’s cutting edge that can be really utilized in a classroom is great,” he said.
The new tree app joins another IFAS-created Android app that identifies Florida forages.