• Community scientists document wildlife using iNaturalist app
    Community scientists document wildlife in seventh-annual Challenge. (Kathryn Whitney © California Academy of Sciences)
  • Crabeater seal documented in Argentina during 2021 Challenge
    Documented in Argentina, this crabeater seal is one of the 1,250,000 observations made in last year's Challenge. (© 2021 María Regina Silva)
  • These blue-sided tree frogs were documented in Costa Rica.
    This stunning image of two endangered blue-sided tree frogs was captured in Costa Rica. (© 2021 Felipe Vega Con)
  • A long-nosed snake found in the Bay Area.
    This striking long-nosed snake—a California native—was photographed in the Bay Area during last year's Challenge. (© 2021 Tony Iwane)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (March 31, 2022) — On April 29, the City Nature Challenge—one of the world’s largest community science events—returns for its seventh year of connecting communities with nature and each other! From participating in organized biodiversity surveys to recording the wildlife in your own neighborhood, the City Nature Challenge is the perfect way to explore your local environment—all while contributing to biodiversity science and conservation.

Launched in 2016 as a collaborative effort between the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the City Nature Challenge has grown from a friendly competition between the two cities to an international event spanning six continents. The inaugural Challenge recorded an impressive 20,000 observations in the state of California. In 2021, community scientists around the world amassed a record-breaking 1,270,000 observations from over 400 cities across 44 countries. These wildlife observations provide invaluable insights into our planet’s biodiversity, allowing scientists, conservationists, and policymakers to make informed resource management and conservation decisions.

Recent research from the Academy is revealing how community science can become an even more powerful tool for conservation by applying structure to community-contributed data, making it a more accurate and consistent resource in monitoring global biodiversity change. “We’re really excited to see what people from around the world document during this year’s City Nature Challenge,” says Alison Young, the Academy's co-director of Community Science and co-founder of the Challenge. “These real-time observations have extraordinary potential to fill gaps in our global biodiversity knowledge, especially in and around urban areas.”

The City Nature Challenge begins globally on Friday, April 29 at 12:01 am in each time zone and runs through Monday, May 2, 11:59 pm. Anyone in a participating City Nature Challenge location can join in by sharing photos of their wildlife observations on the free mobile app iNaturalist, an online platform powered by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic, or on their city’s chosen platform. The collective scientific efforts from participants around the world will be tallied and results announced on May 9, 2022.

Participation is easy: Any wildlife photos taken during the Challenge can be uploaded to the app iNaturalist, where an online community of naturalists confirms species identifications. Whether you’re participating in an organized “bioblitz” or making observations in your own neighborhood, the Challenge is for budding and seasoned community scientists alike.

  1. Find wildlife in your home, neighborhood, backyard, or anywhere else! It can be any wild plant, animal, fungi, slime mold, or any other evidence of life, such as scat, fur, tracks, shells, or carcasses. Check out this guide for tips on finding the surprisingly abundant biodiversity in and around your own home.
  2. Take photos and/or sound recordings of what you find using iNaturalist or your city’s chosen platform. You can use your phone and the iNaturalist app, or you can use a camera and upload the photos to the iNaturalist website.
  3. Learn more about the plants and animals you find as your observations are identified!

Those not able to take photos or record their observations can focus their efforts on identifying species documented in their area during and after the Challenge. Many organizers in cities around the world will be hosting wildlife identification events from May 3 - May 8.

Over the last six years, observations made during the Challenge have helped scientists detect patterns of biodiversity change on a global and local scale. Some of last year’s highlights include: observations of a threatened giant Australian cuttlefish off the coast of Adelaide, Honduras’s first record of a species of hairstreak butterfly, and an invasive emerald ash borer beetle in Denton County, Texas—its presence suggesting that this species range had expanded.

The City Nature Challenge is a fun, collaborative event that harnesses scientific data to regenerate ecosystems and reverse biodiversity loss—a key objective of the Academy’s new Thriving California initiative. By observing and documenting local wildlife, community scientists give insight into the biodiversity of locations throughout the world.

See participating cities and learn more about City Nature Challenge.

See Bay Area events.

Social Media: #CityNatureChallenge

Twitter handle: @citnatchallenge

About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution with a mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in scientific research and environmental education—all under one living roof. Museum hours are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Saturday, and 11:00 am – 5:00 pm on Sunday. Admission includes all exhibits, programs, and shows. For daily ticket prices, please visit www.calacademy.org or call (415) 379-8000 for more information. 

About the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County

The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) include the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park, and the William S. Hart Museum in Newhall. They operate under the collective vision to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds. The museums hold one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history—more than 35 million objects. Using these collections for groundbreaking scientific and historical research, the museums also incorporate them into on- and offsite nature and culture exploration in L.A. neighborhoods, and a slate of community science programs—creating indoor-outdoor visitor experiences that explore the past, present, and future. Visit NHMLAC.ORG for adventure, education, and entertainment opportunities.

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