Lots of people wish they had 20/20 vision. Let’s adopt “2020 Vision” as our rallying cry for what we will accomplish in San Diego County during the 2020 City Nature Challenge! It’s not too soon to start planning. Where will you go and how many observations will you post during the 4-day period of April 24th through April 27th? If you need some ideas to help your planning, we’ve come up with the following:
1. Places to visit. You can review a map of the county with all observations made during the 2019 City Nature Challenge (“CNC”) here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2019-04-26&d2=2019-04-29&place_id=829 (you may need to click on the “Map” button below the gray bar.) Zoom in and look for an area with few or no observations that is accessible to you. That would be a great place to spend some time during this year’s CNC. Wherever you are, look around for different habitats to increase the diversity of plants you observe.
2. Quality observations. Be sure to review the photo guidelines (found here: http://www.sdplantatlas.org/inat/iNatPhotoguide.html) to help ensure that your plant observations can be identified. Although there is a lot of pressure to record as many observations as possible during the CNC, if you want your observations to be valuable for researchers, they need to be done with a certain amount of thought and care. To make it easier on the volunteers who identify observations, post your sharpest, close-up photo of the plant’s important identifying parts first (e.g., reproductive parts, hairs on leaves or stems), so the reviewer will see those features immediately and then if needed, can click through your other photos of the plant. Be sure to add the best ID you can to each observation you upload (even if it is just “Plants” or “Vascular Plant”) to avoid having your observation lost among the many in the “Unknown” category. And finally, be sure you have joined the San Diego County Plant Atlas Project on iNat and changed your settings so the coordinates of sensitive plants can be viewed by project curators no matter who adds the observation to the project.
3. Targeted search. If you are comfortable identifying plants on your own, you may wish to make a list of species that are not frequently observed. Starting with a list of all San Diego County plant observations made during the 2019 CNC (here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2019-04-26&d2=2019-04-29&place_id=829&view=species&iconic_taxa=Plantae), you can enter the name of a plant family in the “Species” box to see what taxa were documented during last year’s CNC. For example, if you enter “Rubiaceae” in the Species box, you will find that of the 15 native or naturalized species on the Checklist of Vascular Plants San Diego County, 5th Ed., only 7 were documented with an observation during last year’s CNC. (Three observations in the Rubiaceae last year were of garden plants, which should be marked “captive/cultivated” or avoided entirely.)
Do you have 2020 Vision? Start planning now so you can clearly see your goals for the 2020 CNC.