The 6th Annual Invasive Species Mapping Challenge

Updated: Aug 10



For this year’s NY Invasive Species Mapping Challenge, we tracked 5 species of concern (new this year: Beech Leaf Disease Nematode!). The main goal of the challenge is to map priority under-reported species to build our understanding of their distributions. Since there is so much ground (and water!) to cover in New York, we need the public’s help!


We challenged partners, volunteers, and citizen scientists across the state to search for these five species during the month of July – and you delivered! Check out some of the great photos submitted in the collage above. We received more records this year during the challenge than ever before:


745 Records Total!


We would like to congratulate two sets of winners:


1. For each species, the individual observer who submitted the most record earns the distinction of being the 2021 winner for that species, and will be mailed a small gift and a certificate for their efforts (We will be reaching out to our individual winners shortly!).


2. For each PRISM (Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management) with the most reports for that species takes home the trophy for that species, until next year when the trophy is passed to next year’s winner! (We will be reaching out soon to exchange the trophies!)


To our winners of the Mapping Challenge, here's to you – Congratulations!



Thanks for helping us fill data gaps!


Of the 745 records submitted during the Mapping Challenge (MC), 537 were presence records (meaning the invasive was observed) and 208 were not detected records (meaning the IS was searched for and NOT observed). Both of these record types are extremely useful – we need the presence records to understand where the species occurs, but that will leave data gaps. Where there are no presence records – is the species not there, or have we just not checked? There is no way of knowing until someone makes a report. Mapping challenges and other citizen science initiatives encourage our users to fill in the gaps in our database and strengthen our understanding of invasive species distributions in New York. Take a look at the map below to see where iMap users submitted presence & not-detected records for 5 key species.



First in County Records


This year, there were several cases where a record submitted for the challenge was the first confirmed presence in that County. These records are extremely important contributions to the database and demonstrate an increased understanding of the distribution for that species.



The winner for the most “Firsts” is Jumping Worm with records in 5 new counties – Schuyler, Otsego, Fulton, Hamilton, AND Washington! These counties had no confirmed presences of jumping worm before the Challenge, and thanks to you, those pesky little worms are coming out of the woodworks. (see map above).


For Beech Leaf Disease and Water chestnut, there were several municipalities that also got their first reports (see below)!





Want to explore the distributions of these five species some more? Click one of the links below to view the iMap data – log in to view unconfirmed and not-detected records, and to make cool distribution maps like the ones above.


Another successful Mapping Challenge has come to an end, but the reporting of invasive species continues on! Get your friends and family, get outside, and report some invasives while you enjoy the outdoors. Just talking about invasive species spreads awareness, leading to more eyes on the ground and more people taking measures to prevent the spread of invasive species (e.g., buying wood where you burn it!).


Want to take on another challenge?

Join our citizen science mapping effort to monitor Spotted Lanternfly and its preferred host plant, Tree-of-heaven: www.nyimapinvasives.org/slf


Thank you to our iMapInvasives User in the Lower Hudson valley for taking this gorgeous photo of this impactful invasive insect!

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