Johnson County Contributes to Record-Breaking Global BioBlitz

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May 15, 2024
City nature challenge

The City Nature Challenge results are in!  This year, more than 83,000 people across 690 communities in 51 countries on all seven continents documented over 2.4 million wildlife observations!  Over 65,682 species were observed globally, including 3,940 that are rare, threatened, or endangered.  The Mallard Duck once again came in as the most commonly observed species in the world.

This global event invites cities to compete in documenting the most nature in their areas. The Office of Sustainability and the Environment, in collaboration with UI WILD, Facilities Management, Green Iowa AmeriCorps, and Johnson County Conservation, led Johnson County's participation. From April 26-29, 2024, residents were encouraged to photograph wild plants and animals throughout Johnson County, contributing to citizen science and global biodiversity efforts.

This year, participants in Johnson County made 1,492 observations, identifying 454 species. A total of 126 people took photos, and 181 individuals contributed to species identification.  Of the Johnson County totals, an in-person event at Macbride Nature Recreation Area contributed 309 observations of 181 species.  This is a significant increase from the 2022 challenge, which was limited to Iowa City and recorded 424 observations of 163 species by 50 people.

The most commonly observed species in Johnson County this year included the American robin, eastern gray squirrel, house sparrow, northern cardinal, and garlic mustard. Among the 454 species identified were jack-in-the-pulpit, barred owl, western foxsnake, half-free morel mushrooms, hardy slipper orchids, and blue sucker fish. In 2022, the top observations were dandelions, Canada geese, common blue violets, and ground ivy.

Johnson County's performance was notable on the global stage, ranking 155th out of 690 for the number of participants, 267th for the number of species observed, and 246th for total observations made. These rankings reflect the community's growing engagement and dedication to biodiversity conservation.

For more detailed results and specific data, visit the City Nature Challenge 2024: Johnson County, Iowa project page.  The Macbride Nature Recreation Area results can be found here.