Cincinnati Challenges Cleveland, Columbus in Biodiversity Blitz

2022, All, Great Parks News
Hamilton County City Nature Challenge 2022, hosted by Cincinnati Parks and Great Parks of Hamilton County.

Great Parks of Hamilton County and the Cincinnati Parks will team up to challenge Cleveland and Columbus in the City Nature Challenge 2022, a worldwide biodiversity blitz in which cities will compete to document the highest number of species from April 29–May 2. In Cincinnati’s first year of participation in 2021, residents made 3,458 observations and documented 807 species, more than Columbus but less than Cleveland.

“This year we want Cincinnati and Hamilton County to take the top spot in Ohio!” said Suzanne Roth, central region education manager for Great Parks. “The City Nature Challenge is a fun way to help us all become more aware of the biodiversity around us. Even tiny forms of life like a bee, weevil, fungus, and snail, while seemingly insignificant, play key roles in our shared biological community.”

Participation is simple. The first step is to download the iNaturalist crowd-sourcing app by visiting iNaturalist.org. Video tutorials are available. Next, start observing animals and plants in a park, your yard, the neighborhood, or anywhere in Hamilton County. Observations can also include evidence of life, such as tracks, fur, shells, carcasses, scat, or even sound recordings. Catalog as many observations as possible between April 29 and May 2.

Participants are also encouraged to share findings on social media by using the #CityNatureChallenge hashtag, and tag @great_parks or @cincyparks when the observation is made from a local park.

The next phase is the identification of all the uploaded information, which will take place from May 3–8.

A prothonotary warbler sits hidden among tree branches. The bird is primarily yellow with black wings. It has black eyes and a black beak.
A prothonotary warbler seen at Shawnee Lookout was one of the rare finds spotted in Hamilton County during the 2021 City Nature Challenge event. (Photo courtesy Sandy Keller)
A rough green snake slithers among tree branches and leaves. It is green in color, almost blending in with the leaves.
A rough green snake seen at Withrow Nature Preserve was another one of the rare finds spotted in Hamilton County during the 2021 City Nature Challenge event. (Photo courtesy rjonesin)

Last year’s challenge brought several interesting local discoveries. Participants captured pictures of the prothonotary warbler bird and rough green snake, both species of concern in Ohio. The most recorded species locally was the common mayapple wildflower.

The City Nature Challenge started in 2016 as a competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco but grew quickly around the globe. Last year, participants in 419 cities made 1.2 million observations, identifying over 45 thousand species.

Documenting urban biodiversity helps ensure the future of animals and plants. The large collection of data from the City Nature Challenge will help researchers and science organizations make informed decisions helping natural communities thrive.

To learn more about this worldwide bioblitz competition, visit the City Nature Challenge website. To participate in the area of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, visit our 2022 City Nature Challenge webpage or the iNaturalist website.

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