Citizen Science

Wild choose-your-own adventure challenge pits San Antonio against the world

Choose-your-own adventure challenge pits San Antonio against the world

Kids walking over a log in the woods
Users can log their finds from anywhere in the San Antonio metro area.  iStock

Beginning April 27 through April 30, San Antonio joins more than 75 cities competing in the worldwide, choose-your-own adventure 2018 City Nature Challenge. The "bioblitz" event offers San Antonio residents and visitors a chance to practice citizen science — and learn more about the wild side of the city.

Each city hopes to tally the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people. In San Antonio, the competition is hosted in part by the Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas Master Naturalists, and the Audubon Society.

“This is a way to get to know wildlife right outside your backdoor and contribute to science, too” says Kelly Simon, a Texas Parks & Wildlife urban biologist. Simon reports that more than 100,000 observations were uploaded during last year’s challenge.

Anyone can join in by downloading iNaturalist, an app for recording observations of plants and animals, from the App Store or Google Play. Then, follow these three simple steps:

  • Find wildlife. Any plant, animal, fungi, mold, or other evidence of life, even scat (aka poop), fur, tracks, shells, or carcasses count. (Just don’t touch!)
  • Take a picture and note the location.
  • Upload your findings to the iNaturalist app.

Any observation in the San Antonio metro area counts, and participants in the challenge contribute to the study and management of wildlife and wild habitat by helping identify types and locations of species in the competing cities.

“The Texas population is increasingly urban,” says Laura Huffman, Texas state director and founding director of TNC’s North American Cities Program. “Cities are a critical component for solving global natural resource challenges.” Citizen science such as the City Nature Challenge is an important part of these efforts.

The challenge announces results on May 4. Get out there and observe, San Antonio.