Mark your calendars for April 27 - 30! We need your observations!

Calling all naturalists in and around Austin! We need YOU! This year's City Nature Challenge is on April 27 - 30, so you can go anywhere within the range (as seen in the above map on the project page) and make observations that will count this year. This is a competition among 65 cities in 15 different countries around the world. Can Texas compete? We think so! But we need your help. Any and all observations count, but the most valuable observations are made on public property (parks, right-of-ways, preserves, etc...) and are of wild (non-cultivated/not captive) organisms. Other observations count, of course, but the wild organisms found on public property can influence management and policy. Wherever you are, observe some things on April 27 - 30! Observations have to be uploaded before May 4 to count as well.

There is a global website here: Hopefully we'll have a TX website as well -- stay tuned!

Tagging some of the big users around Austin -- please tag others that you think would also want to participate. It's also quite fun to get together with others and deeply explore an area -- connect with some of the other naturalists in the area! :)

Publicado el enero 21, 2018 06:41 TARDE por sambiology sambiology



Publicado por nanofishology hace más de 6 años

Already on the calendar! :-)

Publicado por alisonnorthup hace más de 6 años
Publicado por star3 hace más de 6 años

Woot Woot! Such fun last year.

Publicado por bethd hace más de 6 años

Looking forward to it!

Publicado por hydaticus hace más de 6 años

@mattgeo1990, @caliche_kid

Question: How would iNat consider rescued wildlife, either released or to be released and to be returned to the wild? These are not captives, but they may be temporarily. I include in my question young raised at a rescue facility with the purpose of release, be they birds, mammals, reptiles, or such.


Publicado por billarbon hace más de 6 años

Cool! Let’s do it!

Publicado por baldeagle hace más de 6 años

On the calendar! Thanks @billarbon for the update.

Publicado por caliche_kid hace más de 6 años

@billarbon, I would say rehabbed animals are great observation opportunities. I think the key point is to document where they were naturally occurring (where they were found) rather than where the rehab facility is or where they are being released. I do a ton of insect rearing, but I don't mark my observations as captive because I found the eggs/juveniles within 30 ft of where I raise them, and I raise them for the express purpose of documenting life stages, and release them at maturity.

I've made some observations of ambassador bats (rescued but cannot be released), but I have marked those as "captive" and include them so people can see features they may not notice in a wild one.

Publicado por nanofishology hace más de 6 años

Looking forward to the Big City Challenge 2018 event...
I especially appreciate the additional download time enabling exhausted participants to catch up on ID's.... A wonderful idea!
Austin Metroplex... Let's go for it!

Publicado por connlindajo hace más de 6 años

@nanofishology: I agree, but haven't seen the subject addressed. I might have an opportunity in the future, however, as I am a rescue volunteer about to go to additional training. If that happens (weather and health permitting) I could see such opportunities arise and if they were considered verboten, then I would have to object. After all, if an animal is wild, is living in its habitat independently, it could hardly be considered captive, farmed, or cultivated be it plant or animal. That doesn't mean everyone sees it that way...

Publicado por billarbon hace más de 6 años

People will fill their accounts with nothing but human and domestic dog observations (which are all marked "casual" because... yeah), so the fact that you're even asking means your heart is in the right place. Rehabbing animals is sometimes the only way you can see some features on them, so those kinds of observations are really important!

I've had random strangers mark my observations of wild specimens as captive (why???) without making a single comment. I only find out by doing a search and seeing them marked as casual. Makes me mad but I can always "thumb up" the wild annotation at the bottom to fix it.

Publicado por nanofishology hace más de 6 años

Well, I know I'll see animals I have not had close contact with and will want a record for an observation. Over the years I've raised lots of animals that would not be allowed these days and it seems the only way to be able to have that up close and personal interaction is by jumping in and helping out whenever and wherever possible.

I am long since exasperated by those observations with no information but the species name here on iNat. I mean even the basic name, rank and serial number is better than not making a single comment - and I am guilty, but often when I feel it important enough, comment someway, even if silly and corny. It's like it makes me wonder if there is really a connection with the animal/plant by the observer I've observed here on iNat;-)

Publicado por billarbon hace más de 6 años

@nanofishology , @billarbon : Thank you for this discussion!

I have been considering removing all my captive observations (especially the rehab birds); thanks to this discussion, I will, as I don't know where there were found, and they are species that are already well represented on the site.

Publicado por star3 hace más de 6 años

@star3: Then, let me think. If you were around the Grand Canyon and took a photo of a California Condor, as many iNatters have, you wouldn't post the photo because the species is an introduced one and was probably captive born? What about wolves in Yellowstone, there thanks to reintroduction. Conversely, many rescues, whether former 'abandoned' babies or wounded and sick adults are returned to the area they were found or nearby having been returned to their normal ecological niches. I see no problem with such observations (even if description is lacking), nor do I feel the specimen should not be counted in the local database. One other point I would say: the status of all the life around us could rapidly change either positively or negatively. Our observations may therefore become more important for given species - or all species in a short space of time. I say you don't have to remove your observations unless the specimen in question cannot be returned to the environment. Even then, it may be important due to its population status and therefore useful.

Publicado por billarbon hace más de 6 años

In case it helps with the discussion, here are iNaturalist's guidelines about captive/cultivated organisms:

Publicado por alisonnorthup hace más de 6 años

@billarbon : That's not my point at all. I actually agree with you: Ferals, introduced species, naturalized species, invasive species, released animals...all have a place on iNaturalist.

To your other point, if I documented a rehab animal that could not be released at a rehab center, that too would have value.

I was speaking of my OWN observations* , where the scenario was closer to bringing an ambassador animal from a rehab center to visit a children's classroom...and then documenting its location as the school**. The school (office building, in my case) was not where the animal was collected. It is not where the animal currently lives. It is not where the animal will be released (or stay, if it cannot be released). Creating my observations at that office location therefore added little value to iNaturalist.

**Not that I would fault a school student or teacher for that...but I am neither. :)


Publicado por star3 hace más de 6 años

You never know what surprises you might find!

Publicado por marillionjade24 hace más de 6 años

@star3 You can be as uncertain about location as you like. I have some old photos from before GPS tagging, and I remembered what state I saw them in, but not anything more than that. I set the location in the middle of the state, and set the uncertainty window to include the entire thing. Your ambassadors are still valuable to the site!

Publicado por nanofishology hace más de 6 años

@alisonnorthup Thanks for the link to the captive guidelines. They specifically mention specimens in drawers--what if the observation was dated as the collection date, and the location was given as where the specimen was collected? I ended up with a bunch of really interesting beetles from all over the place, and would love to add them to iNat because they are all labeled with date, location, ID, who collected it... I haven't looked them all up, but it's possible some are not represented on iNat yet.

Publicado por nanofishology hace más de 6 años

@nanofishology , It would be silly to NOT allow museum specimen records as you describe. That's how range maps were made before the days of iNat, and it has all the same info you would include on your own observations. It also allows a lot of opportunity to look into the past, and it's one of the reasons that museum specimens are so valuable.

Publicado por hydaticus hace más de 6 años

@hydaticus Seems like the guidelines are directed towards less informed people than us (someone taking a picture of something in a museum and posting it as occurring in the museum instead of where it came from), but this is copied-and-pasted directly from the guidelines:

"The main reason we try to flag things like this is because iNat is primarily about observing wild organisms, not animals in zoos, garden plants, specimens in drawers, etc., and our scientific data partners are often not interested in (or downright alarmed by) observations of captive or cultivated organisms.

Since this tends to be kind of a gray area, here are some concrete examples:

Captive / cultivated
zebra in a zoo
poppy in a garden
butterfly mounted in a display case
your cat"

I've seen well-meaning people ask if it's even okay to post feral dogs to iNat because they are worried "domestic dog" is automatically flagged and taken down from the site (and with all these people posting their pets... ugh seriously), so they were intentionally not making some very interesting observations! I know iNat's guidelines are mostly directed towards people who aren't too familiar with naturalism, but I think the examples could be a little more specific... as is, they are saying mounted specimens aren't allowed.

Publicado por nanofishology hace más de 6 años

@nanofishology , Agreed, they do seem to specifically ban museum specimens, but as long as the collection info is correct, I think it fits within their "what is an observation" guidelines.

I don't get the pet photos either; there are other social media platforms much more suitable for that.

Publicado por hydaticus hace más de 6 años

@nanofishology , Oh, I've definitely been unsure on a location before. I have a feral guinea fowl observation that I only remembered was somewhere in Austin, TX. :)

If more experienced users like you and @billarbon think they have value, I may leave them.

I wanted to get rid of them because I thought I might have too many captive observations.

I already marked them as "captive" when I uploaded them; not because I think they ARE captive or pets, but to prevent them from reaching research grade since I didn't know their "true" locations (collection, sanctuary or release) and, per the guidelines, they were "where a human intended them to be" at that moment.

Personally, I think for the museum observations, as long as the date/location data is correct in the observation itself (not just in the description or photo), then it's a valid data point...but I'm not a curator or admin.

I suppose if it was collected past a certain number of years (how many? 20? 50? 100?) then you could mark the thumbs down on "recent evidence" just to be safe.

Publicado por star3 hace más de 6 años

People who are posting museum pictures never change the date or place to match where the specimen was collected. I just went through a bunch of observations of a college student who was taking an entomology course where they had to prepare a collection drawer, and it appeared as though they wanted iNat users to do all their IDs for them. Location was the college campus, and the date was during finals week (NOT the dates on the labels visible in the photos!). I had to mark every single on as being inaccurate location and date.

The people who are taking collection photos and uploading them with the correct time and location data are the people taking photos where you can't actually tell the specimens are in a collection. And you can upload a photo of a specimen collected 200 years ago, and as long as the date is given as 200 years ago, it flies. The "recent evidence" thing is mostly to prevent people from uploading pictures of fossils.

Theoretically you could include correct time/location data with museum displays, but I've never seen a museum give collection specifics in the public-facing areas.

Publicado por nanofishology hace más de 6 años

Don't the rules of posting state you have to be the one that observed the specimen? I get that you are the one seeing the beetle in the drawer, but you are not the one that saw the beetle in the field where it was collected 50 years ago. Don't get me wrong, I think it would be great to have that data in iNat for mapping, historical accounts, etc., but I think it would be better to create a separate designation some how and require listing the original observer. To me that is like using someone else's photo without giving credit. It would seem weird to post a drawer full of beetles that are from Brazil and you've never been to Brazil.

I don't post anything I did not see in situ. A recent example: while at the park a guy walks up with a 3-toed box turtle to release in the lake (not realizing they are land turtles). He said his dog had brought it to him at his house and he wanted to make sure it was safe from his dog. This was in a suburban park. I really, really wanted to post a pic of that turtle since I had never seen one. I could have pinned the location to a 20 mile radius and captured the location. However, I had no idea if this was an escaped pet, or what. I actually wound up taking the turtle to a rehabber since it was injured. The irony here is that if I had not seen this guy, he would have released the turtle there and then I may have seen it a few weeks later and posted it. There is a portion of the park that abuts undeveloped land and it is plausible a box turtle could be found there. It really made me realize the human element can impact data, especially in suburban parks where people release their unwanted pets and reared butterflies.

Publicado por bethd hace más de 6 años

Too bad we can't post a reply directly to the poster with whom we wish to respond. Sigh. Anyway, @star3, I have only been a contributor/user of iNat since July. Now wasn't disagreeing with you, just trying urge that if you posted an observation of a rescue animal and it met the criteria and wasn't flagged, it would be your decision to post it or not. I am inclined that if it isn't flagged, to leave it up.

Publicado por billarbon hace más de 6 años

Oops, @sambiology

Seems this discussion thread needs to be moved to an iNat "google groups" position.

@star3 @bethd @billarbon @nanofishology @hydaticus @ et al of the contributors to this post by Sam...
Can we all get back to the PROMOTION of participation in the BIG CITY CHALLENGE in the GREAT OUTDOORS?

Publicado por connlindajo hace más de 6 años


But anyway, I have requested the 27th and 30th as PTO (probably should have for May 1, too!) and I’m trying to develop a game plan. Looks like I’ll be in Pedernales Falls SP on the 28th, and I’m thinking I’ll use that day to pick up the western side of our area, including Baker Sanctuary. Not sure how early in the morning to start and where yet. Luckily I can go with very little sleep for a very long time (the caterpillars taught me that) and my headlamp is my best friend.

Last year I tried to do everything, but some of my plants still aren’t IDed and they didn’t help anyone. I will probably try to stick to things I have a better chance of doing my own IDs with. We have lots of great plant people in our area anyway. We need to figure out if there are any known stands of area endemics or rarities we can get relatively easily.

@ncowey suggested setting up pit traps ahead of time and to start with those. I also want to plan my time in as many different ecological regions/habitats as I can. I think our area is especially advantaged in that regard, especially when you consider all our hybrids!

Publicado por nanofishology hace más de 6 años

@nanofishology Hopefully, with the grace days for identifications added this year, Austin Metroplex can contribute more identifications and really shine!
I agree with your statement about observations not being ID'ed. Periodically, I have a confirmation of ID , but too late to be a contribution to the 2017 Big City Challenge.

@ncowey What is this about pit traps? I must have missed that post.

Publicado por connlindajo hace más de 6 años

The pit traps came up in a private conversation we had about CNC. This year is Serious Business, especially since Chuck has commitments and can't do a repeat of last year.

Publicado por nanofishology hace más de 6 años
Too bad we can't post a reply directly to the poster with whom we wish to respond. Sigh.

Actually, we can:

To make it easy to refer the person to the observation, copy its URL.
At the top of the observation, click the person’s username. That takes you to their profile page.
Click the “Message” button.
Enter your message. Make sure to paste the URL of the observation into it.
Click “Send.” (Or maybe it’s “Save message” and then “Send.” Whatever it is, at this point it’s obvious.)


Publicado por baldeagle hace más de 6 años

Thanks. I did that already - and will whenever I think that's appropriate. Advice sort of like what Lauren Bacall told Humphy Bogart in To Have and Have Not about how to whistle;-)

Publicado por billarbon hace más de 6 años

Coming to this conversation late, but I'm really looking forward to this!

How are the borders of Austin defined? (If Dallas gets to glom together with Ft Worth, can we, er, appropriate San Marcos? Does Bastrop County count?)

And we're trying to ID the most number of individual species as well as the most total observations, yes? So when I'm choosing locations for observing, I might want to pick areas that I think would get less traffic? My stomping grounds are the comparatively unsexy far-east parts of Austin, so would things like SE Metro Park, E Metro Park, McKinney Roughs, Buescher St Pk, Onion Creek, or Walter E Long be good picks?

I mean, I'm doing it for science, of course, but... I want to represent.

Publicado por plectrudis hace más de 6 años

I'd do this, @plectrudis: Because I'm most interested in plants, check the distribution of observations and look for holes. So long as it isn't the middle of Lady Bird Lake or I-35, I'd consider whether I could make observations there.

Another way to think about it is that if you're interested in a particular class, order, genus, or species, check its observed distribution. If there are areas where you suspect it should be found that aren't represented there, check them out and see what you find.

Publicado por baldeagle hace más de 6 años

I know Chuck had to have done some serious recon before the event last year, which is my plan for this year. I'm going to make an attempt to take pics of the features detailed in the keys and note that in the posting--hopefully making it easier for someone to ID. This will require some pre-planning/studying on my part but I love this sort of thing. I agree with the other posters about not getting ID on plant pics. I am going to post info about this event on the FB groups "Texas Flora" and "Texas Native Plants" and maybe we can recruit some folks that really good at ID.

Publicado por bethd hace más de 6 años

@bethd , where are these keys? I always feel like I'm adding too many pics because I don't know what features will be needed for ID.

Publicado por star3 hace más de 6 años

@star3, two online keys that I use are:

Flora of North America - as far as I can tell, this is the definitive source, but it is not yet complete (some families not available)

Shinner's and Mahler's - technically just for North East Texas, but still helpful in Austin. Generally easier to understand than FNA.

Publicado por alisonnorthup hace más de 6 años

There's also a checklist for Travis County available here:

However, this is just a list of taxa. You'd need the keys to actually see what features are used to identify them.

Publicado por hydaticus hace más de 6 años

@plectrudis Our region is Travis county and all counties surrounding it: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Blanco, Burnet, and Williamson (but not Lee!). The areas you list have great diversity since east Travis is right at the overlap between eastern and western species, so we have the benefit of the hybrids that you can't find elsewhere.

Most of my observations tend to be east Travis (I live there, and do lots of biocensus work in Bastrop county through my Master Naturalist chapter), so I'm planning to spend more time in the west than usual. I think one important thing is not to forget about the super common things. You can end up with a ton of "rare" species, but nobody observing the easy ones like St Augustine or opossums. I remember last year, nobody had observed an Inca dove by day 2 or 3! And these common things are super easy to ID, as well!

Publicado por nanofishology hace más de 6 años


Publicado por mattgeo1990 hace más de 6 años

@alisonnorthup, @hydaticus Thanks!

@mattgeo1990 , oh no! :(

Hmmm, I wonder if I should travel to a different part of the range. I'm probably not likely to get anything new for the challenge by sticking to McKinney Falls State Park.

Publicado por star3 hace más de 6 años

@star3 You never know! Everything has to be observed on the challenge days, and if you are familiar with McKinney Falls and know where to find things, it's a good place to start (or stick to!). Last year I had a bunch of issues, so most of my observations were from my yard. I did one hike I had to cut short because I was getting eaten alive by mosquitos, but otherwise everything was on less than 0.10 acre. I was #3 in Austin for number of observations. I had over 200 taxa (would have been more if my things were IDed!). Don't underestimate yourself or your favorite places!

Publicado por nanofishology hace más de 6 años

@star3 the keys posted by @alisonnorthup are the one's I use in addition to the book "Manual of Vascular Plants of Texas" by Correll and Johnston. However the book is out of print and while it can be found, it's not cheap. I'd say about 90% of what you find in the Austin area can be found in the Shinner's and Mahler's (which I affectionately call S&M for short). At one time you could download the Shinner's and Mahler's right from the website. I have it saved on my laptop for quick and easy reference.

Publicado por bethd hace más de 6 años

I've added to my calendar!

Publicado por kcoxau79 hace más de 6 años
Publicado por star3 hace más de 6 años

@kcoxau79 !!! Are you coming for sure, Kathy, or as a maybe?

Publicado por nanofishology hace más de 6 años
Publicado por star3 hace más de 6 años
Publicado por star3 hace más de 6 años
Publicado por star3 hace más de 6 años
Publicado por star3 hace alrededor de 6 años
Publicado por star3 hace alrededor de 6 años

Does anybody know if there are any events coordinating with this?

I already know that McKinney Falls and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center don't have any walks/hikes/workshops/etc scheduled to coincide with the City Nature Challenge.

Publicado por star3 hace alrededor de 6 años

There are some city events. I'm going to this one:

Publicado por alisonnorthup hace alrededor de 6 años

There are some city events. I'm going to this one:

Publicado por alisonnorthup hace alrededor de 6 años

Thanks, @alisonnorthup !

Publicado por star3 hace alrededor de 6 años

I’ll be leading a youth group, the 7th Trailblazers of the Baden-Powell Service Association, on a miniblitz along the route of the next planned segment of the Northern Walnut Creek Trail.

Publicado por baldeagle hace alrededor de 6 años

Mark your calendar for next year's City Nature Challenge!!!!
April 26-29, 2019!

Stay tuned for more details, but make sure you mark those dates on your calendar! :)

Publicado por sambiology hace casi 6 años


Publicado por nanofishology hace casi 6 años

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