City Nature Challenges

The City Nature Challenge starts tomorrow. Are you in?

Here’s a good description of it: “Cities around the world will be competing to see who can make the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people.” The event measures how many people enter observations, and how many observations individuals make, and how many are identified, all on iNaturalist.

This is a less good way of describing it: “Are we going to be the borough with the most biodiversity?” It’s definitely not a measure of biodiversity; it’s a measure of organization and participation.

iNaturalist is excellent for plants, but it’s less excellent for moving animals especially if you’re doing your observations by phone. Charismatic microfauna, of course, is almost completely skipped.

Another caveat. Everyone submitting to iNaturalist should be cautious about giving the location of rare and sensitive organisms. Poachers can and will use citizen science data.. The house-plant and cactus craze are taking their toll. Orchids, mushrooms, ginsengs… as soon as there’s a market for something…. And beware the urban foragers, stomping through already-stressed habitat.

Brandon Keim has an excellent discussion of organismal privacy, or the ethical issues of posting locations.

1 Response to “City Nature Challenges”


  1. 1 Sherry Felix April 26, 2019 at 5:51 am

    Thank you for this reminder. Animal rights to privacy is so important. I’ll ask Linnaean NY if I can post something about this.


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