Have you ever paid attention to when ocotillos bloom, your first sighting of a white-winged dove in the spring, or that last butterfly you saw fluttering around for the year? The study of these plant and animal life-cycle events, and their relationship to climate, is called phenology.

Erin Posthumus
Erin Posthumus

The Tucson-based USA-National Phenology Network is looking for “citizen scientists” to collect standardized observations of phrenology, and Erin Posthumus, who leads USA-NPN’s outreach and engagement efforts, will explain what citizens can do in a talk at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 14) in the Arizona Senior Academy’s Great Room.

In this presentation, audience members will learn how to use Nature’s Notebook, a standardized NPN record-keeping tool, to record phenological events at the Academy Village or wherever they live. Posthumus, will explain how to create an observation site, select plants and animals to observe, and record what you see. Observing nature is fun and easy, she says.

The activities of the USA-NPN are funded by several organizations, including the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, The University of Arizona and the National Science Foundation.

Phenology affects nearly all aspects of the environment, including the abundance, distribution, and diversity of organisms, food webs, and the global cycles of water and carbon. Changes in phenological events like flowering and bird migrations are among the most sensitive biological responses to climate change.

Across the world, many spring events are occurring earlier—and fall events are happening later—than they did in the past. However, not all species and regions are changing at the same rate, leading to mismatches. How plants and animals respond to climate can help us predict whether their populations will grow or shrink – making phenology a “leading indicator” of climate change impacts.

Submitted by Charles Prewitt, Academy Village Volunteer


Become a ‘Citizen Scientist’ by Tracking Plants and Animals:Dec.2016
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