It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating 10 million records submitted to the National Phenology Database. As of December 14, 2017, we reached
12 million records!
That includes over 2.8 million records submitted just this year, with two million of those in the last eight months alone.
And those data that you carefully collect don't just remain in the ether. This year, seven peer reviewed publications used of your data to make new discoveries about phenology of oak trees in water-limited systems, how bird migrations match up to the Spring Index, the best way to compare different types of phenology data, and
Thank you so much for all of your efforts this year. We look forward to reconnecting with you in 2018!
Best wishes for the New Year,
What your data are telling us
Linking phenology data from past to present
Authors of a new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution analyzed data from three sources - Henry David Thoreau's observations recorded over 150 years ago in Massachusetts, four decades of observations collected at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, and recent observations contributed by Nature's Notebook participants across the U.S. - to demonstrate how these disparate data sources can be combined to detect changes in flowering phenology over time. The authors found increasing variability in the timing of flowering in recent years across datasets. This suggests that plants may be reaching the limit of how much they can advance their flowering to keep up with changing climate conditions.
Data collected through our
Southwest Season Trackers campaign were recently used in on-the-ground verification of growing season estimates from field-mounted digital cameras (Phenocams) and satellite imagery. The authors found that cameras effectively capture start and end of season for mesquite shrubs, but seasonal transitions are more difficult to capture remotely for the black grama grass. Do you live in the Southwest? Your
phenology observations of grasses can help to fill this data gap!
We have lots of new features planned for next year, including:
An improved Nature's Notebook mobile app that will include an animal checklist for quick and easy data entry
A suite of new species to monitor in Nature's Notebook, including dozens of forbs (including, for the first time, cattails), 10 species of birds, and a handful of mammals and insects
Also, 2018 is the 10-year anniversary of Nature's Notebook! Stay tuned for how we will be celebrating this milestone.
New website about National Wildlife Refuges
We just launched a brand new website for our USFWS partner refuges. The website includes customizable phenology data dashboards for each refuge that is using Nature's Notebook. Find out if there is a Refuge near you and what they are finding!
Authors of a new study in The Condor: Ornithological Applicationsfound that the timing of bird migration along the Pacific coast in the past 20 years has shifted by more than two days in both spring and fall. A comparison to climate indices such as El Niño indicated that shifts to earlier spring migration and later fall migration were associated with warm, wet conditions.
In northern states, most plants will not need weekly observations in the middle of winter. However, if your species retains ripe fruit in the winter, you should still report on fruiting phenophases. In southern states, many species may have active flower buds or open flowers that will require normal weekly observations. Get familiar with the seasonal progression of phenophases for your species to predict what's coming!
Freb Buse first started jotting down notes about birds and blooms in his backyard in Pennsylvania in 1983. By 1987, his hobby had evolved into a meticulous collection of phenology of many plants and animals. Today, Fred's records are used by scientists to document changes in phenology from year to year.
Meredith Cornett has worked as a scientist for over 20 years but only recently tried her hand at a citizen science program with the University of Minnesota Extension's Bee Atlas. Her account of her experience shows that even professional scientists can find a thrill in slowing down to observe nature and make new discoveries about the creatures that share our backyards.