In an old Friday linkfest I plugged GeoGuessr, which uses Google Street View images to simulate the experience of being dropped in a random location somewhere on Earth. Your challenge is to figure out where you are solely by driving around looking for visual clues. You get points based on how close your guess is. It’s dangerously good fun. If you’ve never tried it, don’t click the link if you’re planning to have a productive day. 🙂 And it helps to be a good field ecologist or botanist, because most of the world’s roads are in quite remote places where your only clues are the appearance of the landscape and the local vegetation.
I just discovered GeoSettr, which lets you create your own GeoGuessr challenges by choosing the locations into which players are dropped. Which inspired the first…
Dynamic Ecology GeoGuessr Challenge!
I’ve chosen five locations in GeoGuessr. But not just any locations. All of them are locations of famous field sites in ecology! (well, as close as I could get; field ecologists don’t usually work right by the side of the road) To take the challenge and see if you can figure out where they are, click this link. In the comments, tell us your score. Highest score wins, though if it’s very close I’ll probably ask you to name the field sites as a tiebreaker (so leave a valid email address if you want me to be able to do that) I’ll buy the winner a drink at the ESA meeting.
Deadline for entries is one week from now. Good luck and have fun!
p.s. No cheating! You’re only allowed to use the information provided by GeoGuessr, plus your own knowledge. No googling words you see on road signs or anything like that.
Fun! I got 11605, being waaaaay off on #2, and significantly off on #1. I got 3, 4, and 5 fairly easily (having been to two of them!).
No prizes for being first, but thanks for kicking off the contest, Alex! We’ll see if that score holds up. I’m honestly unsure if it will–I can’t decide if I think anybody’s going to nail all five of them or not.
I’ll be curious to see which locations folks find more difficult than others. Also the extent to which people’s ecological knowledge (“Hmm, what famous field site could this be?”) let’s them make more precise guesses than they could otherwise.
Your answer surprised me a bit, I thought #2 would be one of the easier ones…
No shame in being way off. The first time I played GeoGuessr, I mistook Northern Ireland for New Zealand, which is almost the largest miss possible!
Are employees of the blog and their families prohibited from playing? I got 13927. Like Alex I was worst on #1 and #2 but manged (by luck only on the first two) to be on the right continent for all five. Interesting choice of 5 places. I of course can’t get into details without giving it away, but if I had picked 5 famous places I probably would have had 0-1 overlapping. Yours are all totally valid and I get why you picked every one of them, but I guess ecologists have a lot of places that have had important roles.
Don’t read anything into the places I picked. If only because two other places occurred to me, but turned out to be located in countries not covered by Google Street View.
“Are employees of the blog and their families prohibited from playing?”
Not if they score as badly as you did. 🙂
We have a running GeoGuessr battle in our office, so I’ve probably had more practice than most.
I scored 14503 points.
I guessed #1, #2 and # 5 quite accurately, but struggled with #3 and #4.
13856. Terrible. Right continent for all, but only been to one of them.
I got 16651! I was really close on three, but off by about 1300 km for two.
Interestingly, I would have picked one, maybe two that overlapped. I think I’ll do one, too!
Oh, and #1 and #4 were the ones I got off.
I was expecting that #1 would prove difficult.
You should do 5 famous fossil beds. Especially since fossils are often exposed where roads have been cut through the local geology. 🙂
At first, I was thinking about doing one for biogeography (I actually don’t know very much about fossil bed localities, but it’s a good idea — someone should do it!), but a lot of the places I’d pick (e.g., Mt. Chimborazo) aren’t on Google Street-view, so I dropped that idea. I might do an ecology one, too, though — I think it would be fun to have a few iterations out there!
“At first, I was thinking about doing one for biogeography…but a lot of the places I’d pick aren’t on Google Street View”
Yeah, I’m betting there are no Street View pictures for Wallace’s Line. 🙂
I’m going to do another of these in a month–the theme will be “field stations”. There’s definitely lots of scope for more ecology ones.
My husband and I did it together and got 24878. We’re not ecologists, but he’s a geologist and we both enjoy geography. Probably knowing some famous ecology field sites would have sped up the process. This was lots of fun! Thanks for setting it up!
Well, so far you and your husband are putting the ecologists to shame!
I got 22892. The first one made me laugh because not only was it the first site that popped into my head while reading your post, I immediately recognized the location (home field advantage). #2 was also easy. The others I mostly found using my foundation of last year’s Geoguessr addiction (which may have been your fault), aided up by vague ideas about field sites. I could have done better if I’d taken more time on the last two, but I figured I should get back to work. Geoguessr is dangerous!
A close second from an ecologist: I got 24187. I was hoping to to see my field site (RMBL) on the list.
“I was hoping to to see my field site (RMBL) on the list.”
Maybe next time!
I got 17112. I was furthest off on #1 and #5 (but still in the general area). Pretty spot on for the #2 and #3, and a little off on #4. Probably could’ve gotten closer on #5 if I spent more time looking for street signs. I thought #5 was the hardest to figure out. The second one was a little bit of a guess based on the first thing I thought of when reading “famous field sites in ecology”.
15063. Helps to know what sort of sites Jeremy would think would be worth including…
Hardest thing for me was guessing what the field site was, but not knowing exactly where, geographically, it’s located. Was furthest off on places I’ve never been (A, B, D), much closer on places I have been (C, E).
Yes, “knowing what sort of sites Jeremy would think would be worth including” does count as relevant background knowledge. 🙂
Thanks to this blog, I wasted a lot of time on GeoGuessr last year. Now, I’m hooked all over again. Playing with the timed/rapid challenges, I stumbled upon this ecological delight as the first location: http://url.geoguessr.com/7pFB
As a team effort, my girlfriend Kyle (also an ecologist) and I scored 31,819. She is very persistent in searching for clues and I love the history of ecology, so it was a good match for something like this. Granted, we got nothing done from 5-8pm yesterday evening and our dogs found the activity very boring.
Wow, that’s a near-perfect score! You are nothing if not persistent. I suspect your performance will have the other players stumping for a time limit for the next round! 🙂
yeah, we definitely took advantage of no time limit!
Note that the prize for winning is probably worth about $5, which works out to $1.67/hour for the three hours you spent. But then, you can’t put a price on being able to lord it over the other commenters. 🙂
Long-term reader, first time commenter: can’t now remember my *exact* score (did it last week), but I got ~13, 350 (wrong side of the continent for #1). My only excuse (excuses, excuses) is that I took maybe 3 mins and didn’t move around at all before making each guess (I just rotated).
The obvious inference to be drawn from our respective scores is that if Andrew T and I ever publish contradictory results, you should *definitely* trust his work over mine…
Sorry, just re-read Andrew’s post: should’ve said, ‘if (Kyle + Andrew) and I ever publish contradictory results…’
9,125 of bad… if not shamefully bad. The only place that should have been obvious is #2, and it was probably my wrongest try, but for this damn island invasive plant messing up guesses. Wait, where these places supposed to be famous ecology sites? I know nothing of ecology then… 🙂
Don’t take it hard, I’m betting you didn’t spend 3 hours on it like Andrew and his girlfriend. 🙂
The point per min does not seem significantly different, so score might well be correlated to time spent guessing… 🙂
Now there’s this disturbing vine-like leafless running plant that’s almost found on any tropical island with harsch growing conditions. It now seems to me that it’s probably not the best competitor but certainly the best seed disperser I’ve seen so far (speaking of seed plants). Still wonder.
32352. Now I can die in peace 😉
Luckily, I had some time to kill after submitting a manuscript. Your challenge came right on time, so cheers!
Wow! How long did that score take you?
About two hours. I had to ‘drive’ around quite a bit, and it took a while (especially in #3, because I drove away from the clue…). BTW, I’ve never see boat street views before!
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