From April 29 to May 2 Philadelphia will take part in the City Nature Challenge, an international urban bioblitz in which hundreds of cities around the globe will try to get as many people making as many observations of as many species as possible.
Anyone using the citizen science platform iNaturalist to observe plants, animals, fungi, slime molds, or other forms of life in Philadelphia or any of the surrounding counties (Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks, Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester) can help Philadelphia increase its totals while getting connected with the wildlife around them.
The City Nature Challenge began in 2016 as a friendly competition between the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences (in San Francisco). From there it has grown to include more than 440 cities around the world and, in 2021, more than 52,000 participants.
iNaturalist, which is sponsored by the National Geographic Society and the California Academy of Sciences, lets users upload photos or audio recordings of living things. Other users (as well as the app’s algorithms) help identify the species. The data are then available to scientific researchers and conservation programs.
Philadelphia first took part in the City Nature Challenge in 2019, and in 2021 966 Philadelphians managed to observe 2,219 species in settings ranging from rowhouse stoops to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. To learn more about how to take part, visit cncphilly.org.