Wildflower Center develops app reporting invasive species


Samuel Tackitt

“TX Invasives,” a new app developed by the University’s LBJ Wildflower Center, could help protect Texas ecosystems and economies.

Justin Bush, the invasive species coordinator at the center, said the new app will allow people to take part in protecting their ecosystem by using a feature of the app that reports invasive species on a map of Texas. Bush said the report would then be verified and cataloged. The report would give higher priority to more dangerous invasive species and allow for better response time. 

“The app is really novel in that it also serves as a digital guide to the plants and wildlife of Texas,” Bush said. “It allows the user to pull up pictures of plants and
animals found in Texas, along with a fact sheet on that species.”

Bush said the creation of the app was a collaboration between members of the LBJ Wildflower Center and members of the University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species.

John Clement, the environmental program coordinator in the Watershed Protection Department for the City of Austin, said he found the app useful when out on the lakes in his free time, as well as while working. According to Clement, the app is an essential tool for tracking invasive species. 

“Invasive species are non-native organisms that establish themselves in an area they don’t belong and cause health, economic and recreational problems,” Clement said. “The biggest problem Austin lakes face are the Hydrilla. In Decker Lake, they can block up the intakes used by Austin power. Hydrilla have also made an appearance in Lake Austin.”

According to Clement, detection is one of the hardest and most important parts of dealing with invasive species. Clement said a lag time existed for the detection of invasive species and believes the app could cut down on the time it takes to respond to invasive species.

“Having an app in the hands of citizens will definitely help with this lag issue,” Clement said.

Mechanical engineering junior Joao Gomes, an exchange student from Brazil, said the app would him learn more about the plants and animals of Austin. Gomes said he hopes the app helps the city and is glad to see Texans taking care of their home.