Plant-O-Matic: a dynamic and mobile guide to all plants of the Americas

Gregory R. Goldsmith, Naia Morueta-Holme, Brody Sandel, Eric D. Fitz, Samuel D. Fitz, Brad Boyle, Nathan Casler, Kristine Engemann, Peter M. Jørgensen, Nathan J.B. Kraft, Brian McGill, Robert K. Peet, William H. Piel, Nick Spencer, Jens Christian Svenning, Barbara M. Thiers, Cyrille Violle, Susan K. Wiser, Brian J. Enquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Advances in both informatics and mobile technology are providing exciting new opportunities for generating, disseminating, and engaging with information in the biological sciences at unprecedented spatial scales, particularly in disentangling information on the distributions and natural history of hyperdiverse groups of organisms. We describe an application serving as a mobile catalog of all of the plants of the Americas developed using species distribution models estimated from field observations of plant occurrences. The underlying data comprise over 3·5 million standardized observations of over 88 000 plant species. Plant-O-Matic, a free iOS application, combines the species distribution models with the location services built into a mobile device to provide users with a list of all plant species expected to occur in the 100 × 100 km geographic grid cell corresponding to the user's location. The application also provides ancillary information on species’ attributes (when available) including growth form, reproductive mode, flower color, and common name. Results can be searched and conditionally filtered based on these attributes. Links to externally sourced specimen images further aid in identification of species by the user. The application's ability to assemble locally relevant lists of plant species and their attributes on demand for anywhere in the Americas provides a powerful new tool for identifying, exploring, and understanding plant diversity. Mobile applications such as Plant-O-Matic can facilitate dynamic new approaches to science, conservation, and science education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)960-965
Number of pages6
JournalMethods in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • botany
  • educational outreach
  • field guide
  • mobile app
  • natural history
  • smartphone
  • species identification
  • taxonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecological Modeling


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