CITIZEN AND COMMUNITY SCIENTISTS ACROSS THE GLOBE
TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CITY NATURE CHALLENGE, APRIL 24-27, 2020
Fifth annual challenge offers an opportunity for people to connect with nature and participate in a collective scientific effort, while safely navigating public health challenges; results will be announced on May 4.
“Join the biggest Bioblitz in Australian history and it’s happening in YOUR backyard.”
Redland City QLD, City of Greater Geelong VIC, Greater Sydney NSW and Greater Adelaide SA together form City Nature Challenge Australia (30th March 2020) – As citizen science (also known as community science) initiatives increase in popularity, this year’s fifth annual City Nature Challenge (CNC) is set to take place in cities throughout the world. The global event, co-organised by San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, calls on current and aspiring citizen scientists, nature and science fans, and people of all ages and backgrounds toobserve and submit pictures of wild plants, animals, and fungi using the free mobile app iNaturalist. From Friday, April 24 to Monday, April 27, participants can upload their observations to the app, with identifications happening from Tuesday, April 28 to Sunday, May 3. Final results will be announced on Monday, May 4 (USA time).
In response to shifting public health recommendations related to COVID-19, this year’s City Nature Challenge will no longer be a competition. Instead, participants are encouraged to embrace the collaborative aspect of sharing observations online with a digital community, and celebrate the healing power of nature safely, with social distancing, as they document their local biodiversity to the best of their ability within new public safety parameters. It is imperative that participants closely follow federal and local public health guidelines as they are updated in real-time in response to COVID-19. For detailed information about how the City Nature Challenge is adapting to COVID-19, visit citynaturechallenge.org/COVID19.
During such uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to foster a sense of community, and the City Nature Challenge allows participants to do just that. For both budding and veteran citizen scientists, participating is easy:
- Find wildlife! It can be any wild plant, animal, fungi, slime mould, or any other evidence of life (scat, fur, tracks, shells, carcasses!) found in your neighborhood, home, backyard, or even through your windows. You might be surprised by how many insects thrive in the nooks and crannies around you.
- Take pictures of what you find using iNaturalist.
- Learn more as your observations are identified.
If you’re not able to take photos of wildlife, focus your efforts on identifying species documented in your area—even those documented before the City Nature Challenge! A great way to make this a safe community event is to host a virtual identification party between April 28 – May 3.
Nature exists in every city, and one of the best ways to study it is by connecting scientists and the community through citizen science. As global human populations become increasingly concentrated in cities, it’s more important than ever to document urban biodiversity and help ensure the future of plants and wildlife. Large pools of data built through iNaturalist, natural history museums, and science organisations help authorities make informed conservation decisions that allow humans to coexist sustainably with the plants and animals in their neighborhoods.
After launching the first-ever City Nature Challenge in 2016, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences are hosting their fifth—and most collaborative—effort. The inaugural challenge invited participants from Los Angeles and San Francisco to observe and submit pictures of wildlife they encountered using iNaturalist. By the end of that inaugural weekend, over 1,000 participants submitted more than 20,000 observations of nature to iNaturalist.
Last year, the City Nature Challenge tallied more than 950,000 observations made by over 35,000 people in over 150 participating cities. Scientists can’t be everywhere at once, so without community observations, they’d miss some incredible finds.
During the 2019 City Nature Challenge, participants in Miami spotted a swallow-tailed kite dropping an iguana in mid-air. In Bolivia, citizen scientists spotted an Andean condor—the largest flying bird in the world—circling high over their heads. And in Hong Kong, participants photographed the fluke of an endangered Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin. Over 1,100 endangered, endemic, or data deficient species were recorded during the 2019 City Nature Challenge! This influx of information gives scientists, educators, urban planners, and policymakers insight into the biodiversity of urban locales throughout the world.
In 2020 Australia will be participating for the first time. Four cities are participating:
- Redland City, QLD
- Greater Geelong, VIC
- Greater Sydney, NSW
- Greater Adelaide, SA
Due to COVID-19, what started as four cities in four states competing against each other in a friendly rivalry has changed into the four cities asking everyone in Australia to practice social distancing and BioBlitz their own backyard, balcony and indoor living spaces. Citizen scientists are then asked to upload their pictures using the iNaturalist app or via the iNaturalist.org website. As an added bonus Sunday the 26th of April has been designated as an Australia-wide Moth Night. More information is available here.
Could this potentially be the biggest backyard bioblitz in Australian history?
Signing up is easy and free. Visit inaturalist.org from your browser, or download iNaturalist from the Australian Apple App Store or Google Play store. The Australian City Nature Challenge Umbrella Project is located here.
Social Media and Contacts – Australia
City Nature Challenge Redland City, QLD is organised by Michelle Neil (Secretary of the Australian Citizen Science Association) with support from Redland City Council’s Environment and Education Unit from IndigiScapes. You can find CNC Redland City on Facebook and Twitter. You can see the project on iNaturalist here.
Contact: Michelle Neil, firstname.lastname@example.org
City Nature Challenge – City of Greater Geelong, VIC is organised by Rod Lowther (Geelong Field Naturalist Club) and Pete Crowcroft (Great Ocean Road Coast Committee) with support of City of Greater Geelong and Corangamite Catchment Management Authority. You can find CNC Geelong on Facebook. You can see the project on iNaturalist here.
Primary Contact: Rod Lowther, email@example.com
City Nature Challenge: Greater Sydney, NSW is organised by Alejandro Trevino (Praxis Urban) and Thomas Mesaglio (University of New South Wales Sydney) with support from UNSW Sydney and Taronga Conservation Society Australia. You can find CNC Sydney on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter. You can see the project on iNaturalist here.
Primary Contact: Alejandro Trevino, firstname.lastname@example.org