Community Science

Science belongs to everyone.

Want to explore the natural world and simultaneously contribute to science? Then join the global community science movement. Also called citizen science, the idea is simply that one does not need to have scientific training to contribute to our understanding of the natural world. Museum scientists, independent naturalists, and outside organizations have created numerous projects aimed at helping scientists better understand our world.

Want to know how you or your class can participate in community science projects? Or how to use the popular, free website and app iNaturalist? We have plenty of resources (in English and Spanish) that can help.

How to participate

Already experienced? Like to learn by doing? Check out any of the projects below and see what you can do!

Happening Now

Help document California's incredible coast!

Snapshot Cal Coast 2022

Monday, June 13 to Monday, July 4.

Snapshot Cal Coast is an annual California statewide community science effort, from San Diego to Del Norte and everywhere in between that encourages people to make and share observations of plants, animals, and seaweeds along the California coast using the iNaturalist app. Check out the "most wanted" species list here.

Getting started is a snap:

  1. Download the iNaturalist app for iPhone or Android. (Find out how to use iNaturalist.)
  2. Create an account to start making observations.
  3. Join the Snapshot Cal Coast 2022 project.
  4. Head to the coast and share observations of plants and animals you see, especially species on the Most-Wanted list.
  5. Observe during low tide. Reference NOAA’s list of California tides to find exact times for low tides near you.
  6. Spread the word! Use hashtag #SnapshotCalCoast on social media.

Join our partners, the Coronado Public Library for a BioBlitz at the beach on Tuesday, June 21 from 10:30-1:30 PM.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Healthy Canyons

San Diego is home to more than 150 canyons. These spaces provide important benefits for people, plants, and animals. In fact, our canyons are home to 85 rare, threatened, and endangered species. Find out how we're working with locals to health-check our canyons.

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Baja Projects

Our research is binational. We need your help in the Baja California Peninsula, 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.

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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

Returning in 2023

Border BioBlitz

Help science and document change in the plants and animals found on the U.S. – Mexico border. The Border BioBlitz enters its fourth year as a binational effort to record the diversity of plants and animals found in our shared borderlands. Individuals can photograph wildlife observations and upload them to the community science app (or website) iNaturalist throughout the month of April. This ongoing endeavor continues to help us learn more about the wildlife in our region, and how they are changing over time. See the 2022 project on iNaturalist.

City Nature Challenge 2022: San Diego County

Join us in this four-day international collaboration and help spot nature across our globe. It's easy, all you have to do is use the iNaturalist app or website. It's an excellent way to tap into the nearby nature we share space with daily. San Diego County is an incredibly biodiverse place, so finding lots of insects, plants, birds, and other wildlife should be a cinch. Plus, it helps science—a win-win! See the results from 2022.

How do you use iNaturalist? How do our scientists use your observations? We have resources you can use for any community science project , or you can learn more about participating in the Challenge specifically.

Past Projects

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

See the results of Snapshot Cal Coast 2021.

How are events like Border BioBlitz helping researchers? Find out in this story written by Dr. Sula Vanderplank. Disponible en español.