Best Citizen Science Apps: Putting App In Apparatus

Try one of these citizen science apps to identify new species, track pollution or help charities count wildlife.

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Whether you’re in the US or the UK, here are the best citizen science apps to help you become a citizen scientist, depending on whether you want to identify insect species, track plastic pollution or log wildlife on the move.

Best Citizen Science Apps: Putting App In Apparatus

Best Identification apps

From fungi to birds, these are the best apps for identifying wildlife on iOS or Android.

  • Birds
  • Insects
  • Plants
  • Wildlife

Best Bird identification apps

iBird (US)

Featuring Hawaiian and North American birds, iBird Pro has nearly 1,000 species in its database.

With easy search functions, this app is great for those wanting to expand their bird-spotting knowledge. Users can even track their progress with a journal, so no bird will ever be forgotten. Easily identifiable with regional maps, hand-drawn illustrations and professional photographs, iBird is an essential birdwatching tool.

Available on Android and Apple devices

Birdtrack (UK)

Created by British Trust for Ornithology in partnership with the RSPB, Birdwatch Ireland, the Scottish Ornithologists Club and the Welsh Ornithological Society, Birdtrack is an incredibly thorough resource of the birds of Britain and Ireland.

Providing facilities for observers to store and manage personal records, users’ observations support conservation organisations.

Without the need for internet connection, Birdtrack is an amazing way to engage with the natural world around you while simultaneously supporting conservation efforts. Works best when user has fairly good identification skills.

Available on Android and Apple devices

Best Insect identification apps

Leps (global)

Leps is an app used around the world to record findings of butterflies and moths.

Whether it be insects that are found in the garden, park, or hike, Leps is a great crowd-sourced field guide to these beautiful insects. As a platform, users can discover what others have observed, or identify species.

Available on Android and Apple devices

Picture Insect (global)

Picture Insect describes itself as an ‘AI entomologist in your pocket’, as the app functions as an online insect encyclopaedia and insect identifier.

Identify thousands of insects for free on this app by accessing the huge, and growing, database of insects. Simply take or upload an image of the insect and get an accurate ID within seconds.

Available on Android and Apple devices

Best Plant identification apps

iNaturalist (global)

A joint initiative between National Geographic and California Academy of Sciences created iNaturalist to allow citizens to record observations and share them with fellow naturalists.

Every observation of both plants and insects means a contribution to biodiversity science, as the findings are shared with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Connect with experts and learn about nature, and the app doesn’t need the internet to run.

Available on Android and Apple devices

SeagrassSpotter (global)

Created by Project Seagrass, SeagrassSpotter is a global tool for people to help locate seagrass.

This conservation and education tool could help organisations like Project Seagrass learn about new habitats and seagrass-related discoveries.

For ocean enthusiasts, or those intrigued by marine conservation, SeagrassSpotter is a great way for the public to help with important scientific breakthroughs regarding the still under-appreciated seagrass.

Available on Android and Apple devices

Best Wildlife identification apps

Animal Tracker (global)

Animal Tracker allows citizen scientist users to track the movements of wild animals across the globe in near-real time.

Collected by GPS tags carried by the animals. This free online infrastructure allows hundreds of researchers to manage, analyse, and archive animal movements – and now share them with the public.

Animal Tracker also functions as a platform for users to share real-life observations and photos of the tagged animals, enabling researchers to track behavioural conditions of the animals.

Available on Android and Apple devices

Seek (global)

This incredible wildlife identification app, brought by iNaturalist and WWF, allows users to use the power of recognition technology to identify plants and animals all around the user.

Simply open the camera and start seeking as the app’s interface highlights wildlife in the landscape, drawing from millions of wildlife observations from iNaturalist.

Earn badges for spotting different types of birds, amphibians, plants and fungi. Seek even offers monthly observation challenges to earn even more badges.

Available on Android and Apple devices

Best citizen science tracking apps

These are the best apps for tracking pollution, litter, and carbon emissions

  • Litter
  • Carbon Footprint
  • Food
  • Air pollution

Best Litter tracking apps

Planet Patrol (global)

Planet Patrol is the first reliable and freely available tool to identify global pollution trends and allows anyone to be a citizen science to help combat the spread of single use plastic.

Once downloaded, all you have to do is log litter with a photograph and information.

Then, you can see your images in an interactive map which is part of a database of real-time information about pollution. Become a volunteer and help to identify brands, types and locations of litter, with the goal to shape government policies and eliminate single use materials.

Available on Android and Apple devices

Litterlotto (global)

The mobile app Litterlotto is a fun and engaging way to throw away litter.

Simply take a photo with the app as an item is binned, and get a chance to win spot prizes and guaranteed jackpots. Inviting friends means bonus entries into the monthly jackpot draw – and if they win a prize, so will you.

Supported by brands who want a cleaner environment, throw away litter with style by installing Litterlotto.

Available on Android and Apple devices

Carbon Footprint tracking apps

LiveGreen (global)

LiveGreen is a personal tracking app that allows users to keep up to date with their personal carbon emissions.

From food to transport, there are many ways in which everyone can reduce their carbon footprint, and LiveGreen helps identify these.

Within this carbon tracking app, there is opportunity for users to offset their carbon footprint by supporting reforestation projects and UN certified projects. LiveGreen helps track daily carbon emissions, while also rewarding users for taking action.

Available only on Apple devices.

Impact Score (global)

Impact Score allows shoppers in the UK to find sustainable and healthy products in supermarkets.

Simply scan the barcode of the potential purchase, and Impact Score shows the user the badges which product is awarded with – with the app even suggests alternatives to the product or new ideas.

From healthier products to those more ethical, become more aware when shopping with Impact Score.

Available on Android and Apple devices

Air pollution tracking apps

Air (global)

The aptly named Air is an app for keeping track with air pollution.

Air pollution is a massive problem and can have an incredible impact on people’s health.

Air gives forecasts on pollution levels in the user’s area, giving people the opportunity to change plans if needed – as this app is extremely helpful for those with predisposed health conditions like asthma.

Available on Android and Apple devices

Love this list of citizen science apps and want to take your understanding one step further?