WHAT IS AN ECOQUEST?
EcoQuests, part of the NYC EcoFlora Project, challenge New Yorkers to become citizen scientists and observe, study and help conserve the native plants and animals of the City, using iNaturalist, an easy-to-use mobile App.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Each month, NYBG EcoFlora will announce a new Challenge where we need your help to document the wild flora and fauna of New York City by taking and sharing photos via iNaturalist, an easy-to-use mobile App.
- Download iNaturalist App, or register at iNaturalist.org
- Take photos for the month’s EcoQuest Challenge
- Post your findings on iNaturalist so they can be added to the NYC EcoFlora Project.
- Check the EcoQuest web page for updates and new challenges!
There are no wrong observations. Each observation contributes vital information to reveal traits and processes largely unknown before due to a lack of data and coordination between data sets. Millions of individual data points add up to big data that will enable new insights and opportunities for research, conservation and engagement.
Since the first EcoQuest Challenge in August 2017, more than 1,300 observers have recorded more than 85,000 observations of more than 2,800 species of plants, animals, and fungi.
Please do not disturb animal activity as you record your observations.
Sign up here to receive updated informaton about our EcoQuest Challenges.
Hunt for Holly - December 2019
American Holly (Ilex opaca) is a medium-size tree native to much of the Southeastern United States from Texas to Florida, north to Kentucky, New Jersey, and the southern portions of New York City. With widespread cultivation and a rapidly warming climate, American Holly is extending its natural distribution northward into New England.
Help NYBG document as many Wild American Holly plants as possible by December 31. Photograph the plants anywhere in New York City. Post your findings to iNaturalist so they can be added to the NYC EcoFlora Project.
Dangerous Duo - November 2019
Porcelain-berry (Ampelopsis glandulosa) and Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) are invasive woody vines from eastern Asia that are destroying forests across our region. Porcelain-berry climbs by tendrils over the exterior canopy, while Bittersweet winds around tree trunks and interior branches. Together these vines smother trees from the outside and strangle them from the inside.
Help NYBG document the abundance and distribution of as many Porcelain-berry and Oriental Bittersweet plants as possible by November 30. Photograph the plants anywhere in New York City. For large masses where it is difficult to isolate a single plant, take one photograph of one species every 5-10 feet to cover the entire population. Your observations will show the extent of coverage. Post your findings to iNaturalist so they can be added to the NYC EcoFlora Project.
Seek Sumac - October 2019
Related to Cashew, Mango, and Poison Ivy, Sumac (Rhus spp.) occurs in temperate and sub-tropical regions around the world. Four species are indigenous to New York City. They are clonal shrubs or small trees with compound, fern-like leaves and clusters of red, pubescent fruits high in malic acid and relished by birds.
Help NYBG document the abundance and distribution of as many Sumac plants as possible by October 31. Photograph Sumacs anywhere in New York City. Be sure to get clear photos of the stem, leaves, and fruit clusters, and post your findings to iNaturalist so they can be added to the NYC EcoFlora Project.
Go for Goldenrod - September 2019
New York City has been historically home to 19 species of Goldenrod (Solidago), the iconic wildflower heralding cooler weather and the colorful fall foliage season. Mistakenly blamed for hay fever allergies, Goldenrod pollen is transported by insects, not wind as is the pollen of the real culprit, Ragweed (Ambrosia). Five of our native Goldenrods are thought to be locally extinct. How many wild species can you find?
Help NYBG document the abundance and distribution of as many Goldenrod plants as possible by September 30. Photograph Goldenrods anywhere in New York City. Be sure to get clear photos of the stem, leaves, and flowering branches, and post your findings to iNaturalist so they can be added to the NYC EcoFlora Project.
Additional resource: Download the Guide to the Goldenrods of New York City.
Milkweeds and Monarchs - August 2019
In 1800 there were 11 wild Milkweed (Asclepias) species in New York City; three are still commonly observed, four have not been seen in modern times, and the rest are rare or possibly historical. Monarch caterpillars feed on Milkweed plants, absorbing toxins distasteful to their predators. How many Milkweed species
can you find?
Go find Plantago - July 2019
Plantains (Plantago spp.) are low-growing, herbaceous perennials adapted to extreme environments such as beaches, lawns, and rock outcrops. Many species of birds, mammals, and insects rely on them for food. Ten species of Plantain have been documented in New York City, four of them native. Three native and one introduced species have not been confirmed for more than a century.
June is for Juneberry - June 2019
Juneberry (Amelanchier spp.), also known as Shadbush and Serviceberry, is a small, taxonomically complicated genus comprising about 20 species in Europe, Asia, and North America (where its greatest global diversity is found). In this month’s EcoQuest Challenge, help NYBG document as many Juneberry plants as possible by June 30.
Five of the eight species in the northeastern U.S. occur in New York City as do common cultivars such as Amelanchier ×grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’ (pictured). Amelanchier nantucketensis may be extirpated from the City and members of the Amelanchier alnifolia complex are uncommon.
Take photos of Juneberry plants anywhere in New York City. Good photos of the trunk, top and bottom of the leaves, as well as the fruit clusters are critical for identification. Post your findings to iNaturalist so they can be added to the NYC EcoFlora Project.
Must Find Mustards - May 2019
Fifty-eight species of Mustard have been found growing wild in New York City. Of the 42 non-natives, some are very invasive, including Garlic Mustard, which was among the most observed species during last month’s City Nature Challenge. Of the 16 natives, Virginia Pepperweed was among the most observed.
Learn to recognize the many other species in this large, diverse, and economically important family (Brassicaceae) and document them in your neighborhood.
Take photographs of Mustard plants anywhere you see them in New York City and post your findings to iNaturalist so they can be added to the NYC EcoFlora Project.
Additional resource: Guide to Mustards (Brassicaceae) of New York City.
Photo: Kevin C. Nixon, www.plantsystematics.org
City Nature Challenge & Battle of the Boroughs - April 2019
Take the City Nature Challenge 2019 from April 26–29 with your fellow New Yorkers! iNaturalist describes it as “an international effort for people to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe… in a contest against each other to see who can make the most observations… find the most species… and engage the most people.”
As added incentive for the Big Apple to claim the top spot, Team NYC will also compete in a friendly Battle of the Boroughs to see which one can make the most observations among the team total!
Document as many plants and animals in your neighborhood as possible from April 26–29. Post your observations on iNaturalist so they can be added to the NYC EcoFlora Project in order to help New York City win the City Nature Challenge 2019 and your borough prevail in the Battle of the Boroughs.
Arum Alert - March 2019
Italian Arum (Arum italicum) is a toxic invasive plant that threatens woodlands, meadows, and wetlands. Like Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna) it is highly adaptive to diverse conditions and forms dense stands that crowd out native species. It initially spreads from garden plantings and has begun to invade nearby natural areas in our region, often associated with English Ivy (Hedera helix).
Take photographs of Italian Arum, with or without English Ivy, anywhere you see it in New York City and post your findings to iNaturalist so they can be added to the NYC EcoFlora Project.
Lichen Love - February 2019
Lichens are formed by a partnership between a photosynthetic alga that produces food and a fungus that provides shelter. Highly sensitive to air quality, Lichens were all but eliminated from New York City before federal regulations to curb pollution were enacted in 1970. Show your love for Lichens (and our cleaner air) by documenting them with research-quality photos that are in sharp focus.
Take photographs of Lichens anywhere in New York City and post your findings to iNaturalist so they can be added to the NYC EcoFlora Project.
More information: Register for: The Hidden World of Lichens, taught by James Lendemer, Ph.D., NYBG’s curator of lichens.
Photo: Maritime Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria parietina), (c) Nova Patch, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)
Make the Grade - January 2019
New Yorkers have responded to the EcoQuest Challenge since its inception in August 2017 with more than 44,500 observations. Approximately 75% are Research Grade, meaning their IDs have been confirmed by two or more people and they are suitable for global research and conservation projects.
This month we are asking everyone to take a virtual Challenge by reviewing the 25% of observations that need ID, confirming or adding IDs, and helping them MAKE THE GRADE.
Visit the NYC EcoFlora Project at iNaturalist for more information about how you can help every observation MAKE THE GRADE.
Additional resource: Download the Guide: Make the Grade.
The New Manual of Vascular Plants
Interested in learning more about the region’s biodiversity? Check out The New Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, a project by NYBG and indispensable resource that provides new tools to identify plants in North America.