City Nature Challenge Tallies Over 2.4 Million Wildlife Observations

Author: Newsroom

Los Angeles, CA (May 7, 2024) — The City Nature Challenge (CNC) results have arrived! More than 83,000 people across 690 cities in 51 countries on all 7 continents documented more than 2.4 million wildlife observations for the 9th annual community science initiative. More than 65,682 species were observed, with the Mallard Duck coming in once again as the most popular around the world and the Western Fence lizard retained its title as the most common in Los Angeles County.

The global event called on current and aspiring community scientists, nature and science fans, and people of all ages and backgrounds to observe and submit pictures of wild plants, animals, and fungi from April 26 – 29. Participants submitted pictures of wild plants and animals using the free mobile app, iNaturalist. The competition underscores the power of community science to track real-time changes in our planet’s biodiversity.

“For almost 10 years, we’ve known the observations contributed by the global community have made wide-reaching impacts in local conservation, restoration, land management, research and education,” said Sam Tayag, Community Science Program Manager for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. “This year in Los Angeles, the NHM City Nature Challenge team was honored to see 2024’s observations contribute to Indigenous science, Land stewardship and Land Back right in the middle of urban Los Angeles at Chief Ya’anna Village thanks to our partners Academia Anawakalmekak and the Gabrielino-Shoshone Nation.”

After co-founding and organizing the first-ever City Nature Challenge in 2016 as a competition between the Los Angeles and San Francisco metro areas, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) and the California Academy of Sciences expanded the initiative to 690 cities this year — one of the biggest jumps in CNC history. This significant uptick is the result of a network of organizers in India who brought 205 projects to the global effort. This year’s 2.4 million observations included sightings of more than 3,940 rare, endangered, or threatened species. The Challenge engaged more than 83,000 observers around the world, including 1,983 in Los Angeles County alone.

Los Angeles County by the Numbers
Observations: 21,825
Species: 2,770 (including 70 rare/endangered/threatened species)
Observers: 1,983 
Average number of observations per person: 11
594 people created their iNaturalist account since the beginning of April and collectively made 4,094 observations and recorded 260 species

Los Angeles County Highlights

Putting the “City” in City Nature Challenge

Rare, Endangered, Threatened, or Endemic

Species Interactions

Animals on the Move

Over and Under the Sea

Cute Factor

  • Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)four juveniles sitting in a tree along the L.A. River, while the parents were nearby looking for food – observed by kimssight
  • Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) adult and juvenile – observed by csj9999999 in Lakewood
  • Adult and young grebes, the fifth photo showing a juvenile sitting on the back of an adult – observed by trailblazr at Castaic Lagoon

World by the numbers

  • Observations: 2,436,844
  • Species: 65,682+ (including more than 3,940+ rare/endangered/threatened species)
  • Observers: 83,528
  • Most-observed species globally: Mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos)
  • Cities: 690
  • Countries: 51

World highlights

The current landscape of urban biodiversity is poorly understood. As global human populations grow increasingly concentrated in cities, documenting urban biodiversity—and our impact on it—is a crucial part of understanding our shared future. Large pools of data, including those built by iNaturalist and natural history museums, aid in scientific research and help land managers make informed conservation decisions for humans to sustainably coexist with regional plant and animal life.

“The City Nature Challenge is a wonderful opportunity for communities around the world to come together, explore, and appreciate the biodiversity that surrounds us,” said CNC Organizer Ruth Nasieku of Nairobi, Kenya. ”It’s inspiring to see so many people engaging with nature in their cities and contributing to valuable community science efforts.”

“It is important to participate in the City Nature Challenge because it gives us the opportunity to connect with the nature around us, learn more about biodiversity and contribute to the collection of scientific data important for wildlife conservation,” added CNC Organizer Anabela Plos of Buenos Aires, Argentina. “Additionally, by participating, we can promote environmental awareness and the importance of protecting our natural environment for future generations.”

In 2023, the Challenge tallied more than 1.87 million observations, including over 2,570 rare, endangered, or threatened species; engaged more than 66,000 observers; and recorded 57,227 species worldwide. Next year’s City Nature Challenge — which celebrates its 10th anniversary — will take place April 25 – 28, 2025.

Urban nature initiatives at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM)

In the last several years, NHM has shifted its attention to include not just natural and cultural history, but living nature—specifically, the nature of L.A. With the 2013 addition of the outdoor Nature Gardens and their companion indoor exhibit, the Nature Lab, the museum has onsite venues that engage Angelenos in an investigation of the nature around them. Additionally, the museum’s Urban Nature Research Center (UNRC) and Community Science Program help spotlight ways to boost and sustain Los Angeles’ biodiversity. UNRC and Community Science Program initiatives include the City Nature Challenge, cofounded with the California Academy of Science; SuperProject, the world’s largest urban biodiversity survey; RASCals (Reptiles and Amphibians of Southern California); SLIME (Snails and Slugs Livings in Metropolitan Environments); BioSCAN (Biodiversity Science: City and Nature); Southern California Squirrel SurveyL.A. Spider Survey; and more. Visit NHM.ORG/nature for more information.

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