Subha Laskar, Michael Bartsevich, Farhat Faiza, Liam Lynch

As New Yorkers, squirrels are a big part of our lives. You are bound to see one if you are walking anywhere near a park in the city. Most of the ones that you see are going to have gray fur, but some people might be surprised to see squirrels with darker fur; sometimes even black fur. Some people claim that this a recent phenomenon, and have only starting seeing black squirrels in the last few years. We wanted to use iNaturalist in an attempt bring light to this seemingly novel animal trait. We looked at data of black and gray squirrels over the last four years throughout each of the five boroughs to see if there are any trends. We combined this with outside research in an attempt to understand this peculiarity from the lenses of natural selection, ecology, and even psychology. In doing so, not only have we made conclusions about Eastern gray squirrels but also about the efficacy and reliability of iNaturalist.

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