Citizen Science

Want to explore the natural world and simultaneously contribute to science? Then join the global community science movement. Nat scientists, independent naturalists, and outside organizations have created numerous projects aimed at helping scientists better understand our world.

These projects use iNaturalist, a free website and app, that enables anyone with a computer or smart phone to document plants and animals. You can contribute without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Don't recognize something you've seen? That’s OK, because when you share a photo to iNaturalist, fellow nature lovers can help you ID it.

If you have plant or animal expertise, you can view and identify natural history observations from around the world without leaving the comfort of your home. It’s like a crowd-sourced way to determine what lives where.

Get started with our quick guide to iNaturalist (PDF). Most of these projects occur year round–you can join at any time.

Happening Now! Snapshot Cal Coast 2020

June 1-November 16, 2020

Join The Nat in this statewide effort to document plants and animals found along our coast. Head out to the coast, take photos of plants and animals, and share them on iNaturalist.

Please participate safely. Only go to beaches on your own or with members of your household and only make observations as long as you are following local laws and respecting beach closures.Learn more.

Ongoing Projects

Amphibian and Reptile Atlas of Peninsular California

Take photos of reptiles and amphibians you spot in Southern California and Baja California and upload them to iNaturalist. Suggest an identification or have them identified by the iNaturalist community.

Learn more

San Diego County Plant Atlas

Take photos of wild plants you come across in San Diego County and upload them to the San Diego County Plant Atlas project on iNaturalist. Suggest an identification or have them identified by the iNaturalist community.

Learn more

Flying Squirrels of Southern California

Help The Nat and regional scientists learn more about the charming and elusive California flying squirrel. Participants residing in the San Bernardino Mountains may be eligible to install a camera in their yard to capture images of this nocturnal creature.

Learn more

Bumblebees of San Diego County

San Diego County's bumblebees are threatened—but you can help. Take photos of bumblebees you see locally, and upload to the Bumblebees of San Diego County project on iNaturalist. Suggest an identification or have them identified by the iNaturalist community. Your observations will help museum scientists better understand these important insects.

Learn more

Border BioBlitz 2020

Due to health concerns, public events were unable to occur during the 2020 Border BioBlitz. When social distancing permitted, participants were encouraged to make observations of wildlife along the U.S.–Mexico Border. Despite these unforeseen circumstances, inspired citizens were able to document over 4,500 observations of diverse wildlife in our borderlands. Learn more.

City Nature Challenge 2020

The 2020 City Nature Challenge was a worldwide collaboration to collectively celebrate the healing power of nature. In only four days, over 41,000 individuals made over 815,000 observations of more than 32,500 species—including more than 1,300 rare/endangered/threatened species. In San Diego, 920 observers, spotted 2,409 species in 17,213 observations, placing us at the top of the list across the globe in regions with similar arid climates.

View results and project summaries of past citizen science projects, inlcuding City Nature Challenges and Border BioBlitz. Learn more.