The Big Green Apple: New Yorkers document the city & # 393; s …

In this photo of July 27, 2018, Susan Hewitt photographs a daisy resembling a daisy known as

Susan Hewitt recently found a special award while wandering the streets of New York.

The 70-year-old man saw a mysterious patch of bright green leaves with small white flowers on a flower bed held high.

It turned out to be a tropical Mexican clover, a common herb in South America and in Florida orange groves, but which had never been registered before in the state.

In this photo of July 27, 2018, Susan Hewitt photographs a margarita resembling a margarita known as "wooly soldier" and adds it to iNaturalist, the application she uses to participate in the EcoFlora project in New York City.

HOW DOES IT WORK

Digital platforms such as iNaturalist, a mobile application where citizens share their observations of plants and animals, estimate that people have made dozens of remarkable discoveries around the world.

So far, the project has attracted 730 volunteers armed with smartphones that went out to the street for the mission, called New York City EcoFlora.

"It gives me a tremendous kick to identify things," he said.

"There's nothing more exciting."

Hewitt volunteers for an ambitious project to photograph all the wild plants that inhabit the city of New York.

On Friday, organizers announced that citizen scientists had cataloged more than 26,000 sightings and documented new populations of invasive species and native weeds that appear to be disappearing, such as the milkweed green comet.

Initiated last year by scientists at the New York Botanical Garden, the effort compensates for the lack of manpower to inspect the entire city.

"We're just not enough," said Regina Alvarez, a professor at Dominican College in New York who is not part of the effort.

"What we are studying requires a lot of data and it is really difficult for the amount of scientists who are doing all that work."

So far, the project has attracted 730 volunteers armed with smartphones that went out to the street for the mission, called New York City EcoFlora.

In this photo of July 27, 2018, Susan Hewitt poses for a photo showing her profile in iNaturalist, the application where she records all the plants and animals she finds in New York City. With 7,379 observations and 736 identified species, Hewitt is the most active member of the EcoFlora project. . (AP Photo / Emiliano Rodriguez Mega)

In this photo of July 27, 2018, Susan Hewitt poses for a photo showing her profile in iNaturalist, the application where she records all the plants and animals she finds in New York City. With 7,379 observations and 736 identified species, Hewitt is the most active member of the EcoFlora project. . (AP Photo / Emiliano Rodriguez Mega)

In this photo of July 27, 2018, Susan Hewitt poses for a photo showing her profile in iNaturalist, the application where she records all the plants and animals she finds in New York City. With 7,379 observations and 736 identified species, Hewitt is the most active member of the EcoFlora project. . (AP Photo / Emiliano Rodriguez Mega)

Hewitt, a self-described naturalist who grew up near the English village where Charles Darwin lived, made his discovery last month in front of a huge apartment building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

She turns on her iPhone X every time she sees something new or interesting. A fragile tree seedling protruding from a manhole cover? Click. A white petunia hidden among the weeds? Click.

Botanist Brian Boom, who heads the project, said the scientific community was not really thinking about the need to relate to ordinary people when he was a graduate student in the early eighties.

"There was a feeling of," This is what we do, and you can go out and look at the birds and that's great, but, you know, we'll do science, "he said.

No longer. Scientists have become increasingly aware of how citizens can contribute to their research.

Digital platforms such as iNaturalist, a mobile application where citizens share their observations of plants and animals, estimate that people have made dozens of remarkable discoveries around the world.

And a 2017 study found that more than half of the material in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (an open access database with information on all types of life on Earth) comes from volunteers.

"Many citizens are experts in their own way," said Mark Chandler, a field biologist at the Earthwatch Institute in Boston who is not part of the project.

"If we can get them to start recording (biodiversity) in their backyards, they can really make a big contribution."

Citizen scientists in the EcoFlora effort have documented at least six plants never before registered in the state of New York and two new plants for North America. The observations are already helping to prepare for future threats.

In July, the project challenged its volunteers to locate every tree in the sky in the city. These fast-growing trees with pale gray bark and a stinky smell are the preferred hosts of an Asian moth that can damage crops and forests. By mapping the host plant, the researchers will know where to look for the insect once it appears.

In this photo of July 26, 2018, Daniel Atha holds the specimen of a swamp rose that he picked up in 2014, when he was working to document all the natural plants of Central Park in New York. The results of this survey are incorporated into the EcoFlora project of the city of New York. (AP Photo / Emiliano Rodriguez Mega)

In this photo of July 26, 2018, Daniel Atha holds the specimen of a swamp rose that he picked up in 2014, when he was working to document all the natural plants of Central Park in New York. The results of this survey are incorporated into the EcoFlora project of the city of New York. (AP Photo / Emiliano Rodriguez Mega)

In this photo of July 26, 2018, Daniel Atha holds the specimen of a swamp rose that he picked up in 2014, when he was working to document all the natural plants of Central Park in New York. The results of this survey are incorporated into the EcoFlora project of the city of New York. (AP Photo / Emiliano Rodriguez Mega)

"It has not yet been found in New York (state), but it will come," said botanist Daniel Atha. & # 39; Of course, it will come & # 39;

The volunteers have their own reasons to participate.

Zihao Wang, 29, used to search for plants on his own, exploring the green patches he found on Google Maps. Now, he is one of the most active members with 538 species identified so far. When he is not looking for plants as a hobby, he works for the city's parks department.

"I want to see a version of New York City that is different from everyone else's," Wang said. "I'm always surprised by the nature that still exists here."

In this July 26, 2018 photo, Daniel Atha, left, and Brian Boom, on the right, observe two specimens from the New York Botanical Garden of a robust plant called the Italian arum in New York. The plant has the potential to take over and displace the native species. Atha said that new populations of this invader were discovered in New York City with the help of citizen scientists. (AP Photo / Emiliano Rodriguez Mega)

In this July 26, 2018 photo, Daniel Atha, left, and Brian Boom, on the right, observe two specimens from the New York Botanical Garden of a robust plant called the Italian arum in New York. The plant has the potential to take over and displace the native species. Atha said that new populations of this invader were discovered in New York City with the help of citizen scientists. (AP Photo / Emiliano Rodriguez Mega)

In this July 26, 2018 photo, Daniel Atha, left, and Brian Boom, on the right, observe two specimens from the New York Botanical Garden of a robust plant called the Italian arum in New York. The plant has the potential to take over and displace the native species. Atha said that new populations of this invader were discovered in New York City with the help of citizen scientists. (AP Photo / Emiliano Rodriguez Mega)

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