DFW will be competing with 70 cities around the globe to record most observations of nature on iNaturalist April 27-30. Photos courtesy of Sam Kieschnick via iNaturalist.

April 24, 2018

Last year when iNaturalist hosted the nationwide City Nature Challenge, no one expected DFW to win.

But more than 500 North Texas nature enthusiasts came out during the five-day bioblitz to record more than 24,000 observations – beating 14 other metropolitian areas in the U.S. 

“When you have an army of citizen scientists like that you’re going to find the diversity,” said Sam Kieschnick, DFW-based urban wildlife biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and lead organizer for the DFW bioblitz. 

This week, DFW nature lovers are gearing up to defend the Metroplex’s title for the third annual City Nature Challenge to be held April 27-30. 

Last year, Kieschnick single handedly posted more than a thousand observations and was named top observer for the event.

Northern cardinal“Last year I said ‘I can’t go all out again’ but this year we’re going all out,” he said with a chuckle.

Kieschnick admits the competition will be fierce this year, with more than 70 cities from 17 countries competing, including seven urban areas in Texas

“I think one thing we’re going to notice is our brothers and sisters in Austin and Houston will be going all out. And also those pesky Californians are going to be doing some pretty intense stuff,” joked Kieschnick.

For those who haven’t caught the iNaturalist bug yet, the online platform overseen by the California Academy of Sciences is used to collect observations of living species worldwide. A social network for nature buffs, the site allows amateurs and experts to post their images of everything from fungi to beetles to birds. The data is then used by researchers to track biological patterns and trends.

Kieschnick said the competition is fun but its effect lasts beyond the bioblitz. Not only does it help researchers, the results influences local decision-makers.

“After the City Nature Challenge last year, we got a really good response from local city councils and park boards. They saw that there’s a constituency here who cares about biodiversity and nature.”

Participating is easy. First, create an account on iNaturalist or the iNaturalist app. Then, find wildlife in your backyard, neighborhood park or nature center. It can be a plant, an animal, fungi or any evidence of life such as scat, fur, tracks, shells or carcasses. Take a photo, noting the location of the critter or plant. Share your observations via the iNaturalist app or upload it directly to the iNat website. If you make the observation within the 10-county North Texas area, your observation will automatically be included in the DFW City Nature Challenge tally. 

“After the City Nature Challenge last year, we got a really good response from local city councils and park boards. They saw that there’s a constituency here who cares about biodiversity and nature.”

You can also participate in one of 30 bioblitzes happening around North Texas over the weekend. See list of DFW City Nature Challenge events.

ID it as best you can. One of iNaturalists’ experts will confirm your ID or help you figure out what it is.

Kieschnick said a new feature this year - an algorithm has been added that suggests IDs for you.

“It’s probably the next step before robots take over but it’s a neat thing. I’ve been playing with it,” joked Kieschnick.

Kieschnick said while the competition is fun, nature is the real winner.

“I think public land management will change because of this kind of thing. Parks board and city councils are going to modify city land management because they see folks care about diversity.”

Join the City Nature Challenge

DFW iNaturalist Nature Challenge

About: The four-day iNaturalist challenge will be held in 70 cities in 17 countries to see which city can post the most local observations of the natural world.

When: April 27-30

Where: To take part in the DFW bioblitz, upload observations of plants, animals and insects anywhere in these participating counties: Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant, Wise.

How: Create an account on iNaturalist.org. You can download the iNaturalist app or simply upload your observations on the iNat website. Your observations will automatically be added to the DFW project on iNaturalist if you are within the defined geographic region.

Groups: If you'd rather not go it alone, more than 30 blitzes are planned over the weekend with experts on hand to offer guidance.

Contact: Sam Kieschnick, Texas Parks and Wildlife, 972-293-3841 or Sam.kieschnick@tpwd.texas.gov.

Online: iNaturalist

City Nature Challenge

DFW City Nature Challenge

Competing Cities

Texas Leaderboard



DFW wins nationwide iNaturalist Challenge 

DFW nature lovers challenged to compete in iNaturalist bioblitz

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