The Myrtle Rust Reporter app
The Myrtle Rust Reporter (MRR) app lets every New Zealander help officials monitor how myrtle rust is affecting Myrtaceae across New Zealand.
The smartphone app was developed to help detect the spread of myrtle rust and went live in November 2017. Dr Steve Pawson, who led the development of this app, says, “This app allows users to record a dozen potential host plants in their community and monitor these specific plants. Users are encouraged to check these plants regularly and look for tell-tale yellow spores on new growth.”
“The app gives us the potential to create a biosecurity surveillance army that includes a diverse audience – and not least because the app is bilingual and available in te reo Māori.” - Dr Steve Pawson, Research Leader, Forest Protection, Scion
The MRR app goes one step further than Scion’s existing citizen science biosecurity surveillance app (NZ Eucalyptus Pests). Instead of logging a myrtle rust infection and that being the end of it, the MRR app encourages citizen scientists to select uninfected plants, log them in the app and return to them over time, allowing users to continue to monitor plant health and report symptoms of myrtle rust if they see them. This point of difference will help biosecurity officials to gain a better understanding of how myrtle rust will affect different species in different climates and conditions.
“The app gives us the potential to create a biosecurity surveillance army that includes a diverse audience – and not least because the app is bilingual and available in te reo Māori,” says Steve.
On the first day the app was launched, an app user recorded a myrtle rust infection in a new area, unknown to biosecurity officials at the time. Since then, there have been another 38 confirmed myrtle rust observations. It has been installed over 800 times, with over 400 observations from ~90 reporters.
Available for Apple and Android devices: scionresearch.com/myrtlerust