Community Science

Science belongs to everyone.

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

How you can take part.

Many projects use iNaturalist, a free website and app that invites anyone with a computer or smartphone to document plants and animals. 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.

Why document plants and animals in our region? Understanding what is found where and when, is an essential tool that aids species conservation and guides future development of our region.

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 a crowd-sourced way to determine what lives where.

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

Already a user and want to improve your plant observation skills? Check-out resources created by Nat Curator of Botany, and iNaturalist top identifier, Jon Rebman. Watch a training and download this guide to photographing common regional plants.

Want to learn more about community science at The Nat? Email education@sdnhm.org and ask to be on our mailing list.

Happening Now

California Biodiversity Day Celebrations

September 4-12, 2021

Help science! Take part in California Biodiversity Day and join the week-long celebration of all the amazing plants and animals that call California home. All you have to do is add your photos of wild plants and animals to the State-wide iNaturalist project. Join events near you.

Have yet to use the iNaturalist app? No problem, they’ve made joining easy. You can also watch our YouTube lesson.

  1. Download the iNaturalist app for iPhone or Android
  2. Create an account to start making observations
  3. Join the California Biodiversity Day project.
  4. Head outside to take photos, then share observations of plants and animals you see.
  5. Spread the word! Use hashtag #BiodiversityDay on social media.

You can support California’s amazing biodiversity every day—join The Nat’s iNaturalist projects below.

Want to know more about how climate change affects California’s plants and animals? Catch the series of virtual talks and programs we are hosting with Climate Science Alliance.

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

Imperial County Plants

We need your help documenting Imperial County plants. Take photos of wild plants you come across while in Imperial County and upload them to the Imperial County Plant project on iNaturalist. Suggest an identification or have them identified by the iNaturalist community.

Learn more

Baja projects

Our research is binational. We need your help in Baja, too.

Flora de Baja California

Help improve knowledge of Baja California plants. Snap photos of wild plants when on the Baja California peninsula or its adjacent islands. Upload your photos to the Flora de Baja California iNaturalist project.

Learn more

Arachnids of Peninsular California

Spiders, scorpions, sun spiders, and more. If it has eight legs and you spot it in Baja California or Baja California Sur, then take a photo and post it to the Arachnids of Peninsular California iNaturalist project.

Learn more

Past Projects

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

Snapshot Cal Coast 2021

Thanks to all of you who took part and helped document California’s amazing coastline.

This year, from June 11- June 30, 3,853 observers made 37,700 observations of 3,657 different species! These results will be added to those from years past to help better understand the health of our incredible coastlines.

Explore the results, here.