Participants in the City Nature Challenge.
City Nature Challenge Participants in the City Nature Challenge. © Natalie Sommer

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NM City Nature Challenge

People Across the Globe Invited to Participate in City Nature Challenge April 24-27

As community science (also known as citizen science) initiatives increase in popularity, this year’s fifth annual City Nature Challenge is set to take place in cities throughout the world, including Albuquerque on April 24-27. It will be the second year Albuquerque has participated in the global event, co-sponsored by University of New Mexico, Department of Geography & Environmental Studies and The Nature Conservancy. 

The City Nature Challenge calls on current and aspiring community scientists, nature and science fans, and people of all ages and backgrounds to observe and submit pictures of wild plants, animals, and fungi (no pets, please) using the free mobile app iNaturalist. From Friday, April 24 to Monday, April 27, participants can upload their observations to the app. Experts will help identify species from uploaded pictures, videos, recordings of sounds and other observations from Tuesday, April 28 to Sunday, May 3. Final results will be announced on Monday, May 4.

Communities across Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are encouraged to use iNaturalist to document wildlife in and around their homes and neighborhoods, taking care to follow public health guidelines for safe social distancing and be mindful of closures and restrictions on public open spaces and facilities. During the event, local observations will be updated on the project page: https://tinyurl.com/ABQCityNature-20.

In response to shifting public health recommendations related to COVID-19, this year’s City Nature Challenge will not 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. For both budding and veteran community scientists, participating is easy:

  1. Find wildlife! It can be any wild plant, animal, fungi, slime mold, or any other evidence of life (scat, fur, tracks, shells, carcasses!) found in neighborhoods, homes, backyards, or even through windows. Take pictures using iNaturalist. No pets, please.
  2. Learn more as your observations are identified.

For those not able to take photos of wildlife, focus efforts on identifying species documented in your area—even those documented before the City Nature Challenge--and following along with observations across the world at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020.

Nature exists in every city, and one of the best ways to study it is by connecting scientists and the community through community science. Large pools of data built through iNaturalist, natural history museums, and science organizations help authorities make informed conservation decisions that allow people to coexist sustainably with the plants and animals in their neighborhoods.

Last year, Albuquerque ranked 5th in seven categories out if 159 participating cities from around the globe! This was an amazing turnout for our first year. We tallied 8,230 observations by more than 330 observers and witnessed 1,211 species! Scientists can’t be everywhere at once, so without community observations, they’d miss some incredible finds. We are counting on your help to show us where our wild neighbors are hanging out!

iNaturalist

Signing up is easy and free. Visit inaturalist.org from your browser, or download iNaturalist from the Apple App Store or Google Play store.

Social Media

Instagram and Facebook: @abqcitynaturechallenge
Twitter handle: @ABQcitynature

Event Organizers & Partners

The City Nature Challenge is co-organized by San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Local partners include:

City of Albuquerque, Open Space Division & BioPark

Bernalillo County

New Mexico Herpetological Society

Rio Grande Phenology Trail

Friends of Valle de Oro

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

New Mexico Master Naturalist Program

Open Space Alliance

Sandia Mountain Natural History Center

Central New Mexico Audubon Society

ABQ Urban Bird Coalition

BEMP (Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program)

New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

Rio Grande Nature Center State Park

BioPark Society

Environmental Education of New Mexico

New Mexico MESA

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.