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Photograph Some Plants And Animals For San Diego Bragging Rights

A monarch caterpillar in Balboa Park on April 25, 2018.
Beth Redmond-Jones
A monarch caterpillar in Balboa Park on April 25, 2018.
Photograph Some Plants And Animals For San Diego Bragging Rights
Photograph Some Plants And Animals For San Diego Bragging Rights GUEST: Michael Wall, vice president of science and conservation, San Diego Natural History Museum

It is an opportunity to get outside, take pictures of interesting flora and fauna and enjoy what's forecasted to be a beautiful weekend in San Diego, and in return, you will be helping San Diego when it's rightful place, in the worldwide city nature challenge. Joining me to explain what you can do to participate is Doctor Michael Wall, vice president of science and conservation at the San Diego natural history Museum. Michael, welcome back to the show. I am glad to be here. What is this challenge, and how do cities complete? Compete? It started about two years ago, and I think the initial one was just between semper Cisco and LA, and it was started by the California Academy of sciences in the natural history Museum in LA, and the idea is to see who can document the most biodiversity, nature, flora, fauna, in a four day. So, it slowly built up, I think they have about 70 cities internationally that are involved. It starts by downloading an app, right? Yes, it starts by downloading an app called iNaturalist.. It is run out of the Academy of sciences, you do not have to know anything about nature, in order to use the app, as long as we get a relatively focused photograph, we will try to identify things for you as far as I can, and it's amazingly accurate sometimes, and then even if you can't, there is a whole community of people who use the app, that will try to identify the things we find for it So you download the app and start to take pictures of plants and animals in the wild, that you see. Now is it more valuable to document certain kinds of plants and animals? I think the easiest thing is to tell people to be on the hunt for sort of what we might call natural nature, or nature that is not on life-support, you know, irrigated gardens and things like that, are maybe not as high of a priority of getting on a trail and seeing what's out there, but then again, if you see honeybees on the flowers in your garden, then go ahead and snap a picture. It is wildlife, that is coming through your maybe not so wild backyard. We are trying to get people to take photographs of what they see, and we might get a whole lot of pictures of honeybees, but make then there will be some interesting maybe rare critters that won't be able to document. Now, will they get to use this data? Absolutely, so, they have a number of iNaturalist. projects that exist, anyone, you don't have to be a scientist can create an iNaturalist. project. We have a San Diego project that harbors any pictures of people take a plans. There is also a product that we have that has to do with flying squirrels? That is up in the San Bernardino Mountains. And then we have another one that is associated with the reptiles and opinions of our region, and so, we use that information to sort of supplement the data that we already have in our collections. Now, this weekend there's also something called a bio blitz. That is going to be part of the contest, what is that? Bio blitz has been around for a long time. The I naturalist app is very new and it's a similar idea. Except, it's a little bit more restrictive, so, it's a 24 hour rapid biodiversity inventory. It is again, the sort of game of finding the idea of trying to document nature as quickly as possible. We did one about 10 years ago, so we are doing one again at the same time of year, 10 years later. With the idea of looking at change over time, just within Balboa Park. San Diego is pretty much a natural to be one of the top cities in this nature challenge, because isn't our region one of the most bio diverse in North America? Yes, absolutely, for plans, we have the most species of plants of any county in the United States. And, since plans are sort of the base for all of the ecosystems, you can just sort of multiply that, we do not know how many are in San Diego, but if we got the diversity of plants, we know that we have a huge diversity of insects, and we have a huge diversity of birds and mammals and reptiles and amphibians as well, so, you see it in all of the 4 x 4 commercials, that the person starts their day snowboarding up in the mountains and then and there day surfing at the beach. And we are fortunate to have all of those ecosystem sort of compressed into How many people you hoping to show up in the city nature challenge? A lot. Yes. We haven't set a specific goal on the number people, we really want to engage as many people as we can, and we have had some of our staff going out to a lot of what I like to call the friends groups, because there is friends of the canyon, you know there are friends of Rose Canyon, these groups, that love a very specific area within San Diego. And so, our staff had been going out and doing training sessions on how to use iNaturalist. to get them on board, and there are a number of those throughout San Diego County, so people are interested in for dissipating at an event rather than doing something independently, they can go to our website to find out where some of those events are. People don't have to sign up or anything, just download the app, right? Absolutely, you can just download the app, and our boundary area is the entire county. If you are in our County, and you will upload a photograph, to the app, then it will automatically be harvested into the city nature challenge. You can download the iNaturalist. app and upload pictures of wild plants and animals, this Friday, April 27 through Monday, April 30, then the pictures will be counted and identified May 1 through the third. I have been speaking with Doctor Michael Wall, vice president of science and conservation at the San Diego natural history Museum, Michael, thank you. My pleasure, thank you very much. Some things happen at just the right time. Justus brings opened up into full bloom in San Diego. A new season of the gardening series A Growing Passion debuts on KPBS television. I wonder if they planned it that way. One of the host visits the season is a fruit farm. Joining me now is the host of A Growing Passion, garden designer and author botanist, Nan Sterman. It is so nice to see you, thanks for having me. 20 -- A Growing Passion has been going on for a long time now, how has it been since it started? Like everything, you go through an evolution, initially we were making shows that were fine. We were looking at different topics and a lot of in the beginning, a lot of people are saying to as well wait, are you a garden show, well no not really. Are you a lifestyle show, well no, not really. And it took some time until he built up enough episodes for people to understand what we really are. It's about showing the power of plants in our world. And so, every season we have, kind of categories, we have a little bit of science, a little bit of gardening. A little bit of edibles, a little bit of eating, a little bit of on the farm, a little bit in the nursery, and we have all these different ways of looking at plants, so you get kind of the 360 degree view. And what I love, is when people say to me, oh, my gosh, I had no idea. That is the reward. Now, we heard in the clip that you are heading in the season to the central valley, so this show explores more than San Diego region. We are primarily in San Diego, but when the show takes it out of the area and we have the funds to travel, we follow the story, so for example, the particular episode which is the one that airs tonight, it is not just about fruit, it is about how fruit trees are bread, like the new varieties, how they are bred, how you cross this one with that want to make one that has a different characteristic. How they are trialed, which takes 15 years from the time that one goes from one flower to the other, until that tree is in the nursery. Or in the orchard. And, how their child, we were with the breeders, the breeders of course were testing thousands and thousands of different varieties every year, and in summer on every Wednesday, they have a tasting tour. It's like winetasting, you don't want to waste a drop, and then you get to the fourth or fifth or 61 and you go my God, how many more do I have to eat. And then you realize you tasted one. But after that, then we follow that story through to the farm where, the ones, the variety that are selected go to be propagated, and grown up, and those are the trees I go to the commercial farmers. And also come into our nurseries and they sell millions and millions of trees. Every year. You also introduce viewers to gardening, as art. Tell us about that. So, everybody creates a garden in their own way. And we, I happen to know quite a number of artist here in San Diego, who have gorgeous gardens. Really interesting unique gardens, and so, this has been on a rater for quite a while to go visit some of those artists and show viewers, how does people look at their spaces. How they think about organizing and plants and texture and color and their practices and how they are integrated into their artwork. With the garden and the art integrating together, so that's what we did. We went to four different gardens and, it was really fascinating. There is a couple that live in Solana Beach, who are plant collectors and world travelers and he is a spoke -- sculptor and she is a watercolor artist and illustrator. And, they live on the street of very conventional houses from the 70s. But, their house is blue. And orange. And pink, and you are in a magical wonderland and that is not even mentioning the plants. I want to bring you back to what you and I used to talk about on this show, we are in the middle of spring and summer, we will be here before we know it. What should home gardeners be planting right now? This is the best time of year to be planting all those yummy summer vegetables that we all love, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, hazel, squash, any of those plans where we eat the fruit, and the fruit, anything that makes the seeds, so we don't think of peppers being fruits, but they are technically, so if we are eating the fruit, then, mostly, this is when we plant them. On top of everything else, you have a new book. Yes. It's called hot color, dry garden. What is it about? This is really interesting. We live in a very water poor region, and for many years, I've been talking about changing the aesthetic and changing our landscape, so that the plants we grow don't require very much water beyond what mother nature provides. One of the big concerns people have is they are going to lose color. And that is so, that is absolutely wrong. This book is about creating color filled water wise gardens. And you do that, not just by the plants you plant, but by creating a colorful background. By painting walls, by adding accessories, you do it in a multitude of ways. So this book, features 15 gardens between New Mexico Arizona and California, I wanted all of our water poor regions and I profiled those gardens and show you how these people have made incredibly color filled gardens. And of course, there is a section on how to design for color. One on how to grow, in a water poor region. Resources, and then there are several hundred plants that are listed as well, ones that are listed in those gardens, there are also a glossary of plants that you can use in your garden part The new season of A Growing Passion debuts tonight at 830 on K PBS TV, and I've been speaking with the host of the show, Nan Sterman. Thank you. Thank you.

San Diego is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, so it should have a leg up on the competition in this year’s City Nature Challenge.

The event started as a head-to-head battle between San Francisco and Los Angeles to see which city could get residents to document more of the plant and animal life in their regions. But the competition has now spread worldwide.

San Diegans can download the iNaturalist app to participate. Take a photo of flora or fauna in the app from Friday through Monday and it will automatically count for the contest.

San Diego’s efforts are being led by the San Diego Natural History Museum, which is leading training sessions throughout the weekend. It’s also organizing a “bioblitz” in Balboa Park on Saturday, a 24-hour effort to document as much of the wildlife in the park as possible.

Scientists will get access to people’s pictures to help their research. Michael Wall, vice president of science and conservation at the Nat, said data from the iNaturalist app is not typically used to discover new species in San Diego, though it has happened. The museum has about 100,000 San Diego plant specimens in its collection.

“What’s more interesting to us is that density of data,” Wall said. “If you look on the San Diego County plant atlas on iNaturalist, it has 80,000 observations. We’ve been around since 1874; iNaturalist has been around for less than a decade.”

Wall joins KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday with more on the challenge and how San Diegans can get involved.