Map, Monitor and Report! Invasive Species Monitoring Using EDDMapS Ontario

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With Giant Hogweed making more appearances in the news this past month, we figured it’s a perfect time to remind everyone how they can get involved in the fight against invasive species. Everyone has a role to play  – we need citizens to be on the lookout for new invasions and to remove invasives when and where possible. Of course, the first step is understanding what invasive species are and how you can report them. That’s what this post is all about!

What are invasive species?

Invasive species are “non-native species that have been introduced from another geographic region and whose introduction or spread negatively impacts native biodiversity, the economy and or society, including human health” (Ontario Invasive Plant Council, 2016)

Why are invasive species a problem?

Invasive species can aggressively displace native species, leading to species extirpation and extinction as well as a reduction in overall biodiversity. Biodiversity is necessary in order for ecosystems to be resilient and adaptable to change. Invasive species also alter food chains, fire cycles and soil chemistry and can reduce forest growth. These changes may lead to a reduction in the ecosystem services provided by natural communities. The economic cost of invasive species in Canada is an estimated 36 billion dollars annually.

Learn more about invasive species and their impact HERE.

Why monitor invasive species?

Invasive honeysuckle (Lonicera) species can be found in the majority of woodlots in Oakville  but there are only 8 reported occurrences on EDDMapS. We need more citizen scientists! Map from EDDMapS Ontario website.

Monitoring invasive species is extremely important if we want to manage them effectively. We need to know where the leading edge of an infestation is, and where species are showing up in new locations so that we can prioritize management to have the greatest impact. Reporting invasive species through tools such as EDDMapS sends information to local authorities so they can make these management decisions. Many municipalities don’t have extra funds to track emerging problems. That’s why citizen monitoring is really important!

Species of Special Interest in Oakville

Garlic mustard is an extremely common invasive plant in Oakville. Photo by Jeff Dickie.

Garlic mustard

Common buckthorn

Honeysuckle (several invasive species)

Dog-strangling vine

Giant hogweed and wild parsnip

Norway maple


Find out more about these common invasive species HERE.

From Mapping to Action

Want to use your new knowledge to start eradicating invasive species, but not sure where to start? Larger, higher quality and less invaded areas are the highest priorities for action. This is because they take the least time and effort for the best quality result. In heavily invaded areas, an extreme amount of effort would be required for eradication. Plus, in these areas, if all invasives were removed there would be hardly anything left to hold the soil down and regenerate. If you’re interested in fighting invasive species in Oakville, contact for more information. You can also visit our other invasive species webpages for details on all things invasive.

Volunteers learning how to ID common invasive plants during a workshop in fall 2017. Photo by Jeff Dickie.

Get Started – Using EDDMapS Ontario

EDDMapS (Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System) is a system for tracking invasive species occurrences in real time.

Species can be reported either on the EDDMapS Ontario website  or using the EDDMapS Ontario app, which is available for iPads, iPhones and Android devices. Simply create a free account and you’re ready to go!

The home page of the Android app offers various options.

To report a species using the EDDMapS app:

  1. Choose the species from the list under ‘Species Categories’
  2. Enter the location (automatically entered if you’re using the mobile app)

    The first entry fields allow you to enter the location and upload photos.
  3. Add at least 1 photo. Close up photos showing ID features and photos showing the area of infestation are especially useful.
  4. In this image, the invasive species has been circled. To determine the size of the infested area, you would estimate the area of each patch and then add the areas together. Photo from EDDMapS: Invasive Plant Mapping Handbook.

    Enter the size of the infested area. This is the total area of land containing that invasive species. You can estimate this area by drawing an imaginary line around the perimeter of the infestation, excluding any areas that aren’t infested.

  5. Enter the habitat where the individual is located. There may be some overlap (e.g. if you are on an urban trail that runs along a roadside) but try to choose the option that best represents the habitat of the species.
  6. Enter the percent cover for the species. To estimate this number, imagine that you are looking at an aerial view of the infested area. How much of that view is occupied by the invasive species? This is also called canopy closure or ground cover, and it indicates the severity of the invasion within the infested area.
  7. Choose the abundance category that best describes the infestation. Is there a single plant, scattered plants or dense patches?
  8. Enter approximate number of individuals of that species present in the infested area.
  9. Check off the appropriate plant description boxes to give a bit more information on the condition of the plant at the time you found it.
  10. If you were using a specific monitoring protocol you can also indicate this – if not just choose ‘NA.’ You can also enter any additional information under ‘Notes.’
  11. Hit ‘Save.’ The report will be added to your upload queue. This allows you to use the app while offline.
  12. Once you’re online, go to your upload queue and upload all of your reports.

Note: If you’re using the website instead of the app, the fields are the same but in a different order. Start by logging in and clicking the ‘Report Sightings’ tab.

Learn more by clicking the ‘i’ button beside any species name.

You can also use the app or website to identify invasive species and learn more about them. In the app, you can go to ‘All Species’ and click the ‘i’ button beside any species to access species information, images and a map showing all reported occurrences of the species. On the website, click on ‘Distribution Maps’ to view a map of reported occurrences for each species, and click ‘Species Information’ for descriptions and images of each species.

ID info, images and a distribution map can be viewed for any species. Click the star beside the species name to add it to ‘My Species List,’ which is a short list that makes it easier for you to report species that you see often.

For more information, refer to the EDDMapS HANDBOOK and Step-By-Step Guide or check out our resources for reporting invasive species in Oakville.

Learn how you can minimize the spread of invasive species HERE.