Launch of – a community-driven biodiversity information tool for mobile phones

By Daniel P. Zitterbart

Do you know which animals or plants live in your neighborhood? And would you realize when a species goes extinct?

The assessment of local biodiversity still relies on data produced by costly and time-consuming surveys by experts. These data are collected in standardized and freely accessible databases such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), yet the amount of new observational data fed into GBIF remains on a frustratingly low level. For example, the GBIF database lists only 198 sightings of the common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) for the entire area of Germany during the past decade. For rare species such as the lynx (lynx lynx), only one sighting was reported in Germany during the same time period.

As a solution to the problem of sparse data input, we present our project “”, a new tool to retrieve and to enter local biodiversity data into a world-wide scientific database. The main purpose of is to inform people about the biodiversity around their current location.

How does it work? The core component is the Anymals App, a software for ANDROID® based mobile devices (Android mobile phones). 

This software retrieves biodiversity information from the GBIF database. The amount of data that is downloaded to the mobile phone can be selected by the user, depending on the current location and a radius-of-interest.  The software then presents the available database information in your preferred language (English or German, more languages will follow soon).  Moreover, an image of the occurring species and additional information about them is provided by a direct internet connection to corresponding Wikipedia articles.

Best of all, the Anymals App allows the user to report sightings of species. Every reported sighting, after it has passed a plausibility filter, is directly fed into the GBIF database and is available to everyone world wide.

This software will allow users who own a smartphone to contribute to the scientific GBIF local biodiversity information database, and to make an impact that will benefit all species that live on our planet. is a joint project between the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg and the Alfred-Wegener Insitute for Polar and Marine Research Bremerhaven.