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City Nature Challenge: The Results Are In!

May 5, 2017

City NAture Challenge Triangle logoThe Triangle Area competed in the City Nature Challenge April 14-18, an event that pitted several cities against each other to see who could document the most species in their area on iNaturalist.  The Museum coordinated the local effort, which included a day of biodiversity walks, talks, and carts at the Museum on April 14, a bioblitz at Prairie Ridge on April 15, and walks at NCSU.  It was a great five days of getting people out into nature to see what sorts of things are living all around us every day!

Unfortunately, we didn’t win. Dallas took the 2017 title with a last minute 1000 observation submission which left them with about 23,000 observations. However, we still did great! We came in 6th place out of the 16 cities, which is fantastic, especially given our much smaller population than any of the 5 cities ahead of us. We also came in first of any of the cities participating east of the Mississippi River, so we’re #1 in the east, beating out D.C., New York City, Boston, and Miami along the east coast.  I think we should feel great about that!

Eastern worm snake

Eastern Worm Snake, photo by iNaturalist user @caroline322

In our area, the people who made the most contributions to the 2017 CNC were @coatlicue, @caroline322, and @gmskupien, with 862, 481, and 340 observations respectively. This year’s biggest species contributions were made by @scadwell, @jtuttle, and @whiteoak with 238, 176, and 150. Many others, including several people who live outside of the local Challenge area, helped with identifying the species shared and helped us boost our species numbers.  Overall, this was a huge team effort, with nearly 200 people submitting observations and dozens other helping with identifications.  Thank you to you all for the amazing work you all did during the Challenge!

Some other interesting stats:

We had 23.3 times the number of observations in 2017 relative to the same 5 days in 2016. That’s awesome!

We also had 7.2 times the number of observers in 2017 relative to the same dates in 2016. We ended up adding 97 new people to iNaturalist overall.

Ruffle lichen

Ruffle lichen, photo by iNaturalist user @coatlicue

We averaged 40 observations per person (we actually came in third in the country for this statistic!), so you all made a LOT of contributions. In short, you’re amazing.

Our final totals, at the time of the official announcement, were 7441 observations, 1310 species reported, and 186 people participating, though these have gone up since then too. Overall, the nationwide totals were 124,092 observations, 8557 species reported, and 4051 people participating. We were clearly part of something wonderful and helped make a real contribution to the overall effort. The City Nature Challenge ended up contributing more observation to iNaturalist than any other days in its history, so we helped break some records while doing some fantastic work as a local team!


Rushes, photo by iNaturalist user @gmskupien

Next year’s City Nature Challenge is going international, so we’ll be up against cities in other countries, not just our own. In the meantime, please consider joining and contributing to the Museum’s Natural North Carolina project on iNaturalist. We’re trying to document all the plants, animals, and fungi in the entire state, so it’s a big job. We could use your help, so I hope some of you will join us.


Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2017 City Nature Challenge! We may not have won, but we showed the rest of the country that we have amazing people, amazing naturalists, and dedicated citizen scientists. I am personally thrilled to have been a part of this and I am so proud of what we accomplished together. Thank you for participating and I hope you’ll join us again next year. I truly believe that, together, we can win this!

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