IWMM provides tools to deliver effective management of migrating waterbirds – including waterfowl, waders, and shorebirds – during the non-breeding season. In response to recent interest from field stations, the IWMM team spent several months developing a mobile software application designed to reduce the time and effort required to collect bird counts and habitat conditions under the IWMM protocol. The team utilized tools in the Survey123 platform to create a form-based app for use with FWS-issued iPad tablet computers. Called IMA, short for IWMM Mobile App, the new app was released just prior to the 2018-2019 non-breeding season. IMA immediately delivered on its promise to bring efficiency to the field and office, while adding the ability to both check and restrict field values to ensure a high level of data quality. Observers now only need an Internet connection to send completed surveys to their place of residence in the Avian Knowledge Network data management system (AKN). With IMA, the extra step of transcribing field notes to database values back in the office has been completely eliminated.
As with any new product or technology, there are different stages of adoption. We were pleased to have several refuges take the lead as early-adopters in Year 1 and use IMA exclusively to collect their data. Many additional stations joined later in the season and nearly one-third of our 52 NWR participants collected data with IMA during the 2018-2019 non-breeding season. More than 1500 individual unit surveys were completed using IMA and we are pleased to report that the software performed flawlessly all season. Based on our success in Year 1, we anticipate even greater participation as word gets out and more stations choose to take advantage of the benefits IMA provides. An update is now available with improvements to organization and user flow, and a summary report to quickly review survey data prior to submission. Full update details can be found HERE.
IMA is currently available only for federally administered wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas. However, partners outside the federal system are welcome and encouraged to join IWMM where management objectives for migratory waterbirds align. Partners with an enterprise account for ArcGIS online (AGOL) may be able to build their own mobile data collection process by utilizing products created during the development of IMA. For more information, please contact the IWMM National Project Coordinator, Robert Fenwick.