Dragonfly Hunter: Dan Bárta’s Brainchild Serves the Public

To identify a dragonfly, learn fun facts about its life and take part in scientific research leading to enhanced protection of this ecologically significant species – all this allows the new mobile application developed by the researchers from the University of Ostrava.

The unique project initiated by the scientists from the Department of Biology and Ecology of the Faculty of Science of the University of Ostrava is now serving not only biologists but mainly the general public. With the Dragonfly Hunter CZ mobile application, all nature lovers can make their trips and walks by the water even more exciting.

With the new application, they can identify the kind of dragonfly they have in front of them and learn something about its life. They can also send the data, with a picture attached, right from the given location to the database and contribute to scientific research aiming at enhancing the protection of (not only) dragonflies.

“Dragonflies represent a very important element in applied ecology. They help us indicate environmental changes on a global scale, including climate changes. We are able to observe the transformations of water and terrestrial ecosystems under the influence of humans and dragonflies are often so-called umbrella species, which means that by protecting them, we protect many other, even unrelated, species,” explains the importance of dragonfly protection Aleš Dolný, head of the Department of Biology and Ecology.

“This way of engaging the public in the research, so called Citizen Science, is the best way how to spread ecological awareness in a non-violent manner, through people’s own interests. That is what makes the application so brilliant – people have fun, they learn new stuff and scientists acquire valuable data,” adds Stanislav Ožana, PhD candidate from the same department and one of the co-authors of the application.

The application is the brainchild of the singer Dan Bárta, who is also a passionate biologist and dragonfly lover. He studies biology and ecology at the department and is actively involved in science and research. With his colleagues from the department, he has published several books and one of them was awarded the prize for the best Czech scientific encyclopaedia at the international book fair and literary festival Svět knihy Praha 2017.

In the development of the mobile application were also involved the researchers from the Institute for Research and Applications of Fuzzy Modelling and from the Department of Informatics and Computers of the University of Ostrava. The application is available for free on Google Play.

The scientists plan to configurate the application for the operational system iOS, too, and enlarge the portfolio of organisms by adding new groups – thus in the future, users could learn more about other living creatures.