Since cell phone photos are a part of everyday life, this can actually bring value to something you are probably already doing.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- California is one of 36 global biodiversity hot spots - places that are biologically rich but deeply threatened having lost at least 70% of their original native vegetation.
So how do you get people to care about the environment? Make them community scientists, of course!
The City Nature Challenge began in 2016 as a friendly competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco to see who could take the most photos of the world around us.
"Citizen Scientists" are asked to find nature, take photos and upload them to the iNaturalist App.
"Someone who's elderly and in a wheelchair could still go out and take part, sitting next to a plant and waiting for pollinators to show up all the way to someone who is a small child with their parents going out and maybe using their first ever camera," explained Lila Higgins, the Senior Manager, Community Science at Natural History Museum.
The four-day challenge between April 28 and May 1 has grown from two cities to more than 485 worldwide with 67,000 people recording over 1.5 million observations. Every picture serves as a data point, helping scientists better understand the plants and animals living among us.
"You don't need to be an expert in ladybugs or lizards, you can upload a picture and say 'I don't know what it is, I know it's a ladybug and that's it,'" said Higgins. "Then a specialist will come on and help to identify it with the artificial intelligence that iNaturalist already uses as well."
Since cell phone photos are a part of everyday life, this challenge can actually bring value to something you are probably already doing.
"It just makes hiking way more fun to learn the names of who is surrounding you and like you said, we're already taking pictures of what we're curious of, we may as well contribute to the larger picture," said Aaron Tupac and iNaturalist enthusiast who's uploaded many photos of wildlife using the iNaturalist app.
For you to participate, start off by making sure to capture the moment.
Even a blurry photo might provide data to the experts. Then, move closer for a higher quality photo - nothing is mundane during the four-day global bioblitz, which has become more of a collaboration than a competition.
"With this contest, we're all winners because we're collecting biodiversity data that can help us better understand what's happening with nature in and around our cities and ultimately, that data can then get used to help make cities better for humans and wildlife," said Higgins.
For more information, visit the iNaturalist app website.