As community science initiatives build momentum around the world, this year’s fourth annual City Nature Challenge will expand to more than 150 cities across six continents. For the first time, northeast Indiana will participate, including Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Wells and Whitley counties. Starting April 24 at 12:01 am in each time zone, the Challenge runs through April 27, 11:59 pm. Indianapolis and South Bend will also participate, joining in a collaborative effort to document Indiana’s urban biodiversity.
The global event invites people of all ages to observe and submit pictures of wild plants, animals and fungi using the free mobile app iNaturalist. To join in the Challenge, local participants:
1. Find wildlife: Any wild plant, animal, fungi, slime mold, or any other evidence of life (scat, fur, tracks, shells, carcasses) found anywhere in the seven counties of the project area counts. You may be surprised at what you find in your own backyard, or see from your window!
2. Take photos of findings using the iNaturalist app, or upload photos from your camera/phone into iNaturalist app or website.
3. Learn as observations are identified by other iNaturalist users!
Large pools of data built through iNaturalist, natural history museums and science organizations help authorities make informed decisions about conservation. Organizers encourage Hoosiers to participate in their own yards, or local green spaces and local/state parks, while following appropriate social distancing guidelines.
“Every observation counts,” said Maraiah Russell, Preserves and Programs Steward, who is part of the LRWP team spearheading the local effort. “It can be an earthworm, a robin, a squirrel in your yard. You don’t even have to know exactly what you’re observing, because other iNaturalist users will help by making identification suggestions on your photo. It’s a great way for kids to learn about wildlife while at home too!” Participating is easy and free. You just visit inaturalist.org from your browser, or download iNaturalist from the Apple App Store or Google Play store.
Science at Home: Fort Wayne Area City Nature Challenge Activities
• Friday, April 24 8-11pm-Porch Light Mothing!
o Turn on your porch light, lantern, or flashlight after sunset and hang up a white sheet or t-shirt to see who arrives! Moths and other insects are sure to land there, where you then snap a photo and submit it to iNaturalist.
• Saturday, April 25 Noon-3pm -Backyard Bioblitz!
o Get a picture of everything wild in your backyard or local green space. Weeds, mushrooms, roly poly bugs, they all count. Look under rocks and dig in the mulch, there’s life everywhere. If it’s wild, we want to know about it!
Local supporting organizations include Little River Wetlands Project, Concordia Lutheran High School, Fox Island County Park, Indiana Tech, LC Nature Park, Purdue Fort Wayne Green Action Club, Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, Paul Harding Jr. High School, Save Maumee Grassroots Organization and Science Central.
To learn more, visit the City Nature Challenge page which features an Education Tool Kit at www.citynaturechallenge.org. Find us on facebook: @fortwayneareacnc
Track the wildlife found in our area in real time on our project page: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-fort-wayne-area
See how we’re measuring up with Indianapolis and South Bend on the Indiana project page here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/indiana-city-nature-challenge-2020