Exploring Biodiversity

Introducing LifeScanner, a tool for local discovery and global knowledge.

We live in a biological diverse world that we do not always recognize, but it is still there, affecting our lives and impacted by our actions. LifeScanner is an app for iPhone and iPad devices designed to help people discover the diversity of living organisms around them and to help them contribute to a global knowledge-base on biological diversity. Use the app to learn about the species you encounter - from the food you eat to the bugs in your garden.

By providing access to scientific records species in an easy-to-use platform, LifeScanner allows non-scientists to browse and access species information to educate or help make informed decisions. While enjoying the backyard, hiking on a trail, or a day at the beach, users can look up the species found in their region and in other parts of the world.

To take your experience further, become a citizen scientist! Order the LifeScanner DNA species identification kit to identify organisms around you using DNA Barcoding technology... identify what you're eating, what's in your garden, or in your home. Learn more about the science of DNA barcoding.

Start exploring now!
Use the app to explore species in any location around the world.

So Many Possibilities

Help us catalogue the organisms around you.

Food Authenticity Food Authenticity

Ever wonder if the ground beef you are eating is really beef? What species are in a hot dog? Is the sushi you ordered really as stated on the menu? Test the authenticity of the food you are eating with the LifeScanner kit. You may find that many products on the shelf and menu are not as stated. Help locate food fraud and share your findings with others. Read more about food authenticity.

Biting Insects Biting Insects

Curious about the insect that just bit you? Is it a species that is known to carry Lyme disease, or West Nile virus? Perhaps it is fleas on your pet. Help protect your health, the health of your kids and your pets by identifying biting insects and sharing the results. Climate change is shifting the range of biting insects. Tracking these organisms via DNA Barcodes is very useful for scientists to predict such shifts. Learn more about identifying biting insects.

Garden Bugs Garden Bugs

Are you planning to grow a beautiful garden this year? Knowing which species live in it will help! Some species are beneficial to your flowers and others are plant pests. Knowing the species in your garden will help you determine how best to deal with the bad ones safely, while keeping the good ones around.


Participate by ordering a kit!
Participate in a global initiative to DNA Barcode all species

How it Works

A simple process to collect, track and learn.
You can use our sampling kit to submit any animal samples you come across. The kit contains everything you need to submit 4 samples for identification and contribution to the scientific database.

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Collect A Sample

A sample can be many things! A tuft of hair or fur, an insect, a feather, raw meat from the store, and so on. Simply collect it and place it in one of the sampling vials from your LifeScanner kit.

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Scan & Document It

Using the LifeScanner app on your Apple device, scan the QR code on the vial. The app will automatically record your GPS coordinates and date of the sampling event. You can enter additional information about the sample to assist scientists with analysis.

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Return Your Kit

Once you have completed all your vials, and submitted the data via the app to the LifeScanner team, you can mail back your kit to submit your samples for lab work.

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View Your Results

As your samples progress through the DNA barcoding lab, you will be able to check in with the app and see what stage they are at. Once they have been DNA Barcoded, you will receive details about what species you collected!

Get your own LifeScanner app and kit to contribute to future scientific research.

Explore Biodiversity


Download the LifeScanner app from the Apple App Store, and use it on your Apple device to explore your local biodiversity, for free!


Discover Biodiversity


Request a trial LifeScanner DNA Species Identification kit, and contribute to a global movement!

Request a trial kit
(Currently Canada and USA only)

Copyright © 2014 Biodiversity Institute of Ontario. All rights reserved.