The first City Nature Challenge started as Citizen Science Day, with citizen science teams at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences challenging one another into what turned out to be an eight-day friendly competition in April of 2016 between Los Angeles and San Francisco, engaging residents and visitors in documenting nature to better understand urban biodiversity. It grew to 16 cities in 2017, and went international in 2018.
The free iNaturalist app (https://www.inaturalist.org/) is now the standard way for bioblitzes and other citizen science (the involvement of the general public in scientific research and data collection) projects to record information and is what most cities will use for recording City Nature Challenge observations, including the team here in the Washington, DC Metro area. The beauty of the app is that with a simple uploaded photo, crowd sourcing can then help identify the organism and the observation is recorded so that worldwide any researchers can data mine the info they need. You never know what piece of data you could be providing some researcher somewhere in the world. You don't even need to know what you're reporting (though the iNaturalist app has a neat suggested identification feature to provide likely ID possibilities and there's a neat new Seek app that can help ID things on the spot (https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/seek_app) too!). This is due to the crowd sourcing that allows other perhaps more knowledgeable people to provide their ID skills. A short instructional video can be found here: https://vimeo.com/246153496
As far as participation, the DC region again did wonderfully! It came in 4th place overall with 876 participants who made observations. This was behind San Francisco (1,532 observers), San Diego County (1211 observers), Boston (992 observers), and just ahead of Los Angeles (which also started the competition 3 years ago, with 855 observers). With over 40 planned DC regional events over the competition period, it turned out those group events really paid off.
The DC Metro Area also did remarkably well with its species count, considering some tropical places have so much more biodiversity. The DC Metro Area came in 8th overall with 1,855 verified species observed.
|Among one of neat findings was this Southern Adder's Tongue Fern at Huntley Meadows Park
Whether you'd like to join one of these organized events or go solo, what great fun and discovery! What's not to like about that? So here's to the City Nature Challenge, as a fun way to make nature discoveries in our wonderfully diverse region while providing valuable scientific data! So please do participate!