Tallahassee shines in City Nature Challenge
Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/myfwcmedia/albums/72157708326639274
The species diversity of Tallahassee and Leon County has now been displayed on the world stage. In the 2019 City Nature Challenge, Tallahassee and Leon County placed first in number of observations and number of species for our population category, fifth in number of species per capita and fourth in number of observers per capita, an impressive result for our first year!
“Tallahassee/Leon County was in the top 10 in per capita observations, species and participation,” said Alison Young, co-director of Citizen Science at the California Academy of Sciences, a sponsor of City Nature Challenge. “They were also first in all categories in cities with a population of 100,000 – 250,000 people. In just four days, you all almost doubled the number of observations in Leon County on iNaturalist and added 730 new species there!”
From April 26-29, the city and county came together to compete in recording as many species as possible using the iNaturalist app and website. The community performed very well in the observations and species categories, landing in the top 35 of all competing cities with 1,267 observations. Observations of 1,701 species put the community in the top 20 of that category, besting cities such as Atlanta, San Antonio and even Bogota, Columbia. All of this was achieved with 409 observers. These numbers are even more impressive when the areas and populations of other competing projects are considered. For example, the San Francisco Bay Area project covered a nine-county range and had 1,937 observers.
“I am excited that the Tallahassee and Leon County community came together to achieve such impressive results for its first ever City Nature Challenge,” said Dr. Thomas Eason, assistant director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “I hope that participants and others are inspired to continue spending time outdoors, exploring natural spaces and learning about Florida’s wildlife.”
“Tallahassee is proud to be a community rooted in its natural environment,” Mayor John Dailey said. “Thanks to our passionate residents, this challenge deepened our knowledge of local plants and wildlife, which will help us continue to care for and enjoy Tallahassee’s natural beauty for years to come.”
"To be the 2019 City Nature Challenge winner amongst like-sized communities shows how much outdoor adventure our county has to offer," said Leon County Commission Chairman Jimbo Jackson. "In just our first year we made more than 11,000 nature observations and engaged so many different people in citizen science. Thanks to all who participated, and we're already looking forward to next year!"
The FWC held a series of events, both on its wildlife management areas and in local parks. FWC partnered with WFSU, the Challenger Learning Center, City of Tallahassee, Leon County, Coastal Plains Institute, Apalachee Audubon and several other organizations to engage members of the community with the nature around them. Species as unusual as striped newts, hooded pitcher plants and golden-banded skippers were all recorded as part of the challenge. These observations help add to the body of knowledge we have about the natural heritage of our state. The full list of species and observations can be viewed on the Tallahassee/Leon County City Nature Challenge project page.