Global event helps identify rare species
Sonoma County Regional Parks, Pepperwood Preserve and Sonoma Ecology Center/Team Sugarloaf are asking residents to be citizen scientists and take part in the global City Nature Challenge event.
The challenge takes place two parts. From April 30 to May 3, people are asked to take pictures of wild plants and animals and upload them to the iNaturalist app. Scientists will be identifying what was found, May 4-9. Results will be announced on May 10.
Sonoma County residents don’t have to attend an official event or even be present in a park to participate. All that’s needed is an iNaturalist account and smart phone app. Visit www.iNaturalist.org to sign up for an account. Download the app from a smart phone’s app store. Start sharing observations.
Invented five years ago by citizen science staff at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences, the City Nature Challenge originally was a friendly competition to see which organization could log the most “citizen science” observations on iNaturalist.
The challenge has grown into a four-day international event, with people around the world exploring their local landscapes, observing species of trees, flowers, insects, mammals, reptiles and more. Then uploading their photos to iNaturalist, where they are identified and categorized.
Sonoma Ecology Center/Team Sugarloaf has a busy slate of activities, including an introduction to iNaturalist offered in separate sessions in English and Spanish. The entire lineup is listed by date on the calendar, located at sonomaecologycenter.org/events.
Pepperwood is running a social media campaign and countdown to the City Nature Challenge on their Facebook page through May 9. They will be sharing helpful resources and inspiration to get the community ready to participate in the City Nature Challenge. To join in the fun, visit or follow the Pepperwood Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PepperwoodCA.
Last year, 41,000-plus people made more than 815,000 observations. More than 32,000 species were documented. Of those, over 1,300 were rare, endangered or threatened. This data is crucial for scientists to be able to track worldwide biodiversity.
For more information, visit CityNatureChallenge.org/participate.