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!

Upcoming Events


Saturday, August 27, 2022 12 PM

Find our booth at this free event! Join us at the Pala Band of Mission Indians' Oakstravaganza. We'll explore the never-ending construction zone that is nature. Get inspired by local animals and design your own creations with The Nat. 

More information coming soon.

California Biodiversity Day

Thursday, September 8, 2022 11:30 AM

Grab your smartphone, tablet, or digital camera and join us in documenting California's amazing plants and animals as we celebrate California Biodiversity Day. This event is free with museum admission. 

We have such an incredible diversity of plants and animals in California that it takes an entire week to celebrate California Biodiversity Day! Join us for a quick pop-up event and learn to use iNaturalist, a community science tool that helps us all better understand the plants and animals we share space with. Meet in the Atrium at 11:30 AM, where one of our educators will meet you and teach you how to use the free iNaturalist app (we suggest downloading it in advance).  Then get some practice with a quick observation walk around the museum!

You could even turn the week into a California road trip. Check out events occurring this week throughout the state. 

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

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.

Learn more

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.

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

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.