September 10, 2017

Ecologists study Siberian orchids with mobile GIS

Mobile application allows to collect and analyze data on rare flowers

Did you ever know, that in the very heart of Siberia (just 50 kilometers from Novosibirsk) there is a unique place with more than 14 species of rare orchids growing on a territory of 100 acres? This degree of species diversity is extremely rare, most likely there is no place like this in the whole Eurasia. And it is not human made, those rare flowers just grow there naturally.

This place has been recently discovered by Siberian environmentalists, who decided to find out what conditions caused the occurrence of such a unique place. In July 2017, a group of students-biologists from Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University supervised by the environmentalist Alexander Dubynin was sent to the “orchid garden” for 3 days. The CarryMap mobile application was used to find bearings and to collect data about all the rare flowers found on site, to add their locations on the map, to describe attributes, and to attach photos.

Marsh helleborine (Epipáctis palústris)

Upon return from the expedition, the field data collected by all the team members was imported to ArcGIS using the CarryMap Builder extension and combined to a single project with the proper symbology.

After analyzing the output data, some interesting patterns have been found, for example, some species of flowers grow in bigger groups, whereas the other grow better in specific site types only (forests, bogs, etc.). Owing to the research this unique nature reserve will soon be officially named as the specially protected zone, so the rare orchids will be under the state protection. Next year the extended group of scientists including geologists and soil surveyors will be sent to explore this Siberian phenomenon in more detail. 

Siberian larkspur (Delphinium grandiflorum)

CarryMap is a free app available on Android and iOS devices.