Citizen science encourages public participation and collaboration in scientific research, as well as creating opportunities for the community to come together to learn about and celebrate our wonderful natural environment.
Merri-bek supports residents to get involved in a range of citizen science projects. There's something for everyone, whether you're a budding bug-catcher or a serious bird nerd!
Ongoing Projects: iNaturalist
iNaturalist is a free, easy to use app that helps you to identify the plants and animals around you. As you record and share your observations, you are also generating data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.
Once you know how to use iNaturalist, you can participate in citizen science events like the City Nature Challenge and the Great Southern Bioblitz.
How to use iNaturalist
- Download the ‘iNaturalist’ App on iTunes or Google Play on your smartphone, or visit the iNaturalist website on your computer.
- Sign up to create your profile or log in if you’re already a user
- Head outdoors to snap photos of local plants and animals and upload them to the app.
To learn more about using iNaturalist, have a look at the webinars at the bottom of this page, or the video tutorials on the iNaturalist website.
Upcoming events: City Nature Challenge 2023
You don’t have to be an expert to get involved in the City Nature Challenge. We need everyone to discover and share the incredible biodiversity of Melbourne!
During the four-day challenge (April 28 - May 1), you simply snap photos of plants or animals and upload them to the iNaturalist app. Your observations will automatically contribute to Melbourne’s tally, as we compete with cities all over the world to gain the most observations.
You can watch the global results leaderboard during the competition here.
Your observation also added to the Atlas of Living Australia database of plants and animals, helping scientists with their research to improve outcomes for our environment.
Once you have signed up with iNaturalist, you can join the City Nature Challenge 2023: Merri-bek project here.
Upcoming events: Great Southern Bioblitz 2023
Don't worry if you missed out on the City Nature Challenge - you can still contribute to science by recording observations in iNaturalist at any time.
You can also get prepared for the Great Southern Bioblitz (24-27 November 2023).
Past events: City Nature Challenge 2022
In 2022, over 20 councils across Melbourne collaborated to participate in the global City Nature Challenge. Local residents helped Melbourne to compete with cities from around the world by taking pictures of native plants and animals between 29 April to 2 May 2022 using iNaturalist.
Over 2000 different species were observed in our city over the four-day event! This is an incredible result, and we extend a huge thanks and congratulations to the 600-plus residents who took part. Their efforts contributed to a fantastic global result - 1.7 million plants, animals and fungi were observed in urban centres worldwide. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s no nature in cities!
You can see the full results from the 2022 Challenge here.
Past events: Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2023
Celebrate National Bird Week in October each year by taking part in the annual Aussie Backyard Bird Count (16-22 October). Anyone can get involved - all you need is 20 minutes, and your favourite outdoor space in Merri-bek. You don't have to be an expert - simply record the species you do know, and use the app to help you identify the rest.
You'll be joining thousands of others across Australia in collecting important data which contributes to our understanding of how birds in Merri-bek - and all over Australia - are faring.
Download the Aussie Backyard Bird Count App on iTunes or Google Play on your smartphone, or visit the Aussie Backyard Bird Count website on your computer to upload your survey results or find out more.
We have a recorded three-part webinar series to help you become an urban nature explorer and prepare to participate in our citizen science events, which you can watch at any time.
The webinar series will guide you through the basics of using iNaturalist and showcase expert knowledge on how to discover and capture quality observations of the biodiversity around us. It doesn’t matter whether you are new to observing nature or not, this webinar series has something to offer for everyone!
You will learn the basics of how to use the iNaturalist App, how to participant in the City Nature Challenge and how your findings contribute to better understanding and protection of our native species.
Fungi and invertebrate experts share their knowledge with us. You will learn:
- Tips and tricks to discover and appreciate the micro world of fungi and invertebrates in your own backyard, local parks, waterways, and reserves.
- Tools and skills to take quality images of the micro world during the City Nature Challenge
- The steps to successfully upload your photos to iNaturalist
Plants, birds, frogs and reptile experts share their knowledge with us. You will learn:
- Tips and tricks to discover and appreciate the macro world of plants, birds, frogs and reptiles in your own backyard, local parks and reserves.
- Tools and skills to take quality images of the macro world during the City Nature Challenge.
- The steps to successfully upload your photos in iNaturalist
How to use iNaturalist App
You can also watch this recorded how to use the iNaturalist App video at any time.