Nature Challenge Way Too Early For Northern Latitudes and Colder Climate Zones

I sooooo wish that the leaders of iNaturalist would set the dates of this event by climate zones or latitude. Colorado is in the middle of what will be a long, below normal stretch of weather with rain and a fair amount of snow. This weather pattern is not supposed to turn around until about the 24th of April and the Nature Challenge starts 6 days later. The temperatures in April were even lower last year with more snow How in Colorado can we find a representative sample of the amazing diversity of insect populations until our weather warms? The date for this challenge in this area should be at least one month later.

I notice that due to the amazing success of iN, the website is now often quite slow to process sightings. By staggering the huge amount of data that is posted during these challenges, might it alleviate some of the congestion? If you want to make this into a competition, then for goodness sake, please level the playing field!

Respectfully,
Pam Piombino
Boulder County, Colorado
8100+ postings

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The City Nature Challenge is not organized by iNaturalist but by a separate group. If you have feedback there’s a contact page at https://citynaturechallenge.org/ but they’re aware of concerns about time of year and various climates and I know it’s something they take under consideration.

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Dear tiwane,

Thanks for letting me know to whom to direct my concerns. Be well, Pam

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The City Nature Challenge is global – this means that if the timing was shifted for northern regions in North America then it would likely be off for another part of the world. Personally, I don’t treat the CNC as a bioblitz designed to document all the species in our area – I treat it as an opportunity to introduce people and organizations to iNat. If in April people learn how to photograph an indoor spider or record the sounds of a bird or get outdoors and can photograph signs of spring, then I will consider the local CNC a success. The CNC is a great opportunity to train people for future more comprehensive bioblitzes to be held when the weather improves. I should note that it is snowing here in Nova Scotia as I write this post. The birds are chirping though!

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As the organiser of the most northerly CNC event in the western hemisphere - Edmonton, AB at 53.5 degrees N (it looks like Glasgow, Edinburgh and Copenhagen are further north in Europe) I agree there is merit in getting people out looking. But realistically (with snow in the forecast here tonight) the CNC will be getting a lot less attention here than other local events later in the summer. It would be nice to see CNC organisers making more of an effort to coordinate something across similar latitudes or climate zones. Or maybe even get off the idea that it all has to be the same weekend everywhere. How about 2 dates in the North, and 2 dates in the South?

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In the south we have organized our own even, the Great Southern Biobitz in September/October.

https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/great-southern-bioblitz-2020-umbrella

However, I would prefer if the event rotated by 4 months every year (and on the 4th year added a month). That way bioblitzes would over a 12 year period cover each month of the year. That way each city could plan its level of involvement, and decide to focus on recruitment, versus monitoring, versus specific taxa (e.g. migratory birds, spring flowers), or urban vs natural, etc.

Taking part in two events per year requires just too much resources, and indeed even once a year becomes difficult, but with an offset cycle, every 2 or 3 years would work fantastically.

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Why not reach out to https://citynaturechallenge.org/ with these suggestions? The CNC is inaturalist-adjacent at best.

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I will try to bring this up at one of their planning meetings this week.

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I raised this same issue last year. Naturally, the organizers made no effort to address these concerns. I guess it’s pretty in California this time of year, so they feel no need to alter this global event. Pity.

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Now that the City Nature Challenge is world-wide, I’d like to discuss making it a little more iNat-friendly and more like nature itself. Presently the observing part is April 30 - May 3, and the identifying part is May 4 - May 9. That probably works for San Francisco, but less so for Phoenix, and is definitely not optimal for Santiago. Nor is it particularly kind to our servers, as many users have noticed, and slow upload/ID response is not a good experience for people using iNat for the first time!

Wouldn’t it be better to hold the event throughout the calendar year depending at least upon latitude? Not only would it make it more “natural,” meaning kids would see more interesting things, it impact our servers less and improve the experience for new users.

The way I contribute to the City Nature Challenge is to filter “needs identification” through “account created in the past week” and spend time making ID’s and explaining to new users how to get more satisfying results. Probably more newbies would receive a better “community ID” experience if it were spread out across the year as well.

Just thoughts…

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Just adding a note to help direct the discussion that iNat neither runs nor organizes the CNC. They simply permit the group that does so to leverage their platform for collecting data.

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Glasgow and Edinburgh are both in the western hemisphere :slightly_smiling_face: