Starting April 29, residents can participate in organized biodiversity surveys and record the wildlife in their own neighborhood during the City Nature Challenge, which allows residents to connect to their local environment while contributing to biodiversity science and conservation. The challenge runs through Monday, May 2, 11:59 pm.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, participants are urged to carefully follow current public health guidelines. Anyone in a participating City Nature Challenge city can join in by sharing photos of their wildlife observations on the free mobile app iNaturalist, an online platform powered by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic, or on https://www.inaturalist.org/, or on their city’s chosen platform.
The collective scientific efforts from participants around the world will be tallied and results announced on May 9.
Launched in 2016 as a collaborative effort between the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences, the City Nature Challenge has grown from a friendly competition between two cities to an international event spanning six continents.
“We’re really excited to see tens of thousands of people come together for this year’s City Nature Challenge,” said Lila Higgens, NHM’s Senior Manager of Community Science and co-founder of the challenge. “This project helps us understand the natural world that lives in our cities, while also connecting people across generations to the plants and animals that surround them everyday. Last year the City Nature Challenge recorded over a million observations. This year I’m hopeful we’ll see even more.”
Participation is easy: Any photos of wild plants, animals, or fungi taken during the Challenge can be uploaded to iNaturalist where an online community of naturalists confirms species identifications. Whether you’re participating in an organized “bioblitz” or making observations in your own neighborhood, the Challenge is for budding and seasoned community scientists alike.
1. Find wildlife in your home, neighborhood, backyard, or anywhere else. It can be any wild plant, animal, fungi, slime mold, or any other evidence of life, such as scat, fur, tracks, shells, or carcasses. Visit https://tinyurl.com/ymastns2 for tips on finding the abundant biodiversity in and around your own home.
2. Take photos and/or sound recordings of what you find using iNaturalist or your city’s chosen platform. You can use your phone and the iNaturalist app, or you can use a camera and upload the photos to the iNaturalist website.
3. Learn more about the plants and animals you find as your observations are identified.
Over the last six years, observations made during the challenge have helped scientists detect patterns of biodiversity change on a global and local scale.