Charlottetown and Summerside among cities participating in yearly nature challenge

·2 min read
The blue-spotted salamander is one of the species Islanders participating in the 2022 City Nature Challenge should be able to spot. (Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative - image credit)
The blue-spotted salamander is one of the species Islanders participating in the 2022 City Nature Challenge should be able to spot. (Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative - image credit)

Charlottetown and Summerside residents will be able compete against over 360 other cities around the world in this year's City Nature Challenge.

The competition is a way to measure the biodiversity of each community, with participants snapping photos of plants and animals and uploading them to the iNaturalist app from April 29 to May 2.

The challenge has been running since 2016. In 2021, participants made over a million observations, documenting about 45,000 different species.

Zoologist John Klymko did the challenge along with his partner last year.

"It's something you can dive right in and really plan out your weekend around it," he said. "There was a little section included near the airport where there is a bit of bog habitat, so we went there specifically because we knew there would be bug species that we wouldn't be able to find elsewhere in Charlottetown.

"But alternatively, it could be just [taking] a couple of photographs on your walk of dandelions going through the sidewalk cracks and submit those. All those records contribute to the program"

Friendly competition

iNaturalist automatically classifies what is posted, which is later verified by experts.

Klymko said Charlottetown documented 210 species and made 394 observations in 2021. Some highlights include pictures of harbour seals, as well as some "strikingly" black and yellow salamanders.

"This time of year, if you're out in the woods flipping logs, you can find blue-spotted and yellow-spotted salamanders. They're pretty common in Victoria Park, so that could be a good target," he said.

Only a handful of people from Charlottetown participated last year. Klymko said that while it's hard to be on par with larger cities, the nature challenge is a good excuse to explore the city — and friendly competition is not totally out of the question.

"There could even be friendly competition between Summerside and Charlottetown. And then even within the cities you can see how many records you have submitted and how many species you have documented. So, again, if that's appealing to you, you can sort of track how you compare to other participants," he said.

Nature P.E.I. is holding an iNaturalist workshop Tuesday night at Beaconsfield in Charlottetown. There will be another workshop in Summerside's Eptek Centre next Tuesday.

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