Issue: Fall 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, we take a look at all that our refuge partners accomplished this year. We saw a great increase in the number of data records submitted by refuge observers this year to the National Phenology Database. Our refuge partners are using these data to answer their questions about changes in phenology of focal species and to better plan their management actions. 

We have a brand new USFWS Phenology Network website to help you to explore what refuges are finding. Below, we walk you through the exciting new aspects of the website and tell you about some other resources we think you'll find useful.   
Happy Holidays!



USFWS Liaison
Education Coordinator
Phenology on the Refuges
Summary of this year's USFWS activity
This year, 15 Refuges contributed data to the National Phenology Database. If your refuge has not yet uploaded your data for this year, now is a great time to do so! 

Thirty-eight observers contributed 210,501 records this year on 79 species of plants and animals at National Wildlife Refuges. Top contributing refuges included Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, and Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. 

The top species observed were golden crownbeard ( Verbesina encelioides), eastern cottonwood ( Populus deltoides), and red maple ( Acer rubrum). 

We also welcomed five new refuges on board: Grand Bay NWR/NERR, Bayou Sauvage NWR, Big Branch NWR, Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR, and Neal Smith NWR. 
Valle de Oro reaches 4 years of data collection
Our pilot refuge Valle de Oro NWR recently crossed the four-year mark on its phenology data collection efforts. Observers have collected 190,683 observations on 39 species. Refuge staff are learning which bird species are active at different times of the year and which species nest on the Refuge. They have also gained important knowledge of the seeding times for invasive and native trees, which will guide restoration activities next year. 

See more results from Valle de Oro NWR »
Gulf Coast Phenology Trail continues to grow
New Gulf Coast Phenology Trail Coordinator Gail Bishop is off and running with hosting phenology monitoring trainings and helping new refuges get on board the Trail. The Trail now includes four refuges in Louisiana and Mississippi where observers are monitoring common species to better understand changes in phenology along the Gulf Coast. 

Learn more »
Resources for our Refuge Partners
Create your 2017 Phenology Report

Now is a great time to create an Annual Phenology Report for your Refuge! You can see our recommendations for what to include in a Phenology Report in our  Phenology Report Guide

The Guide includes instructions on how to use the USA-NPN's visualization tools to easily make summaries and graphs to include in your report. 

Don't forget to share your report with us when it's done!
Birds adjust migration routes to optimize arrival times

A recent study in  Ecology and Evolution  found that the stopover strategies for migratory birds are influenced by a bird's time-schedule, which is influenced by the habitat conditions experienced in their annual cycle, as well as the distance remaining to their breeding destination. This study used the USA-NPN's  Spring Indices  to evaluate the timing of the start of spring at their research sites. 

Forest Service funding for citizen science

new grant opportunity for Forest Service partners will fund several  citizen  science projects up to $25,000 each. Projects should involve direct data collection or meet a  Forest  Service information need, have a duration of 6 months or longer, and have a genuine scientific or management outcome. Proposals are due  Jan 31, 2018.

Need help writing outcomes? Check out our Program Planning Resources or sign up to take the Local Phenology Leader Certification Course. Details on the course are below. 
What's New at USA-NPN
New USFWS Phenology Network website

Our new USFWS Phenology Network website is a place to explore what other refuges are finding through their phenology monitoring programs. Start with the five Refuge Highlights on the homepage, then explore the other refuges using Nature's Notebook on the Phenology on the Refuges page. Coming in January, all refuges across the country will be able to track the Status of Spring on their refuge. 

On the individual refuge landing pages, a What we're finding section displays dynamically updating results from phenology data collection. Any administrator of the refuge group in the Nature's Notebook system can customize this dashboard to display results of interest. Have questions about how to use the system? Contact

Learn more »
New data type for plant and animal activity

Our new Magnitude Phenometrics data type allow you to explore the annual patterns in the timing and magnitude of phenological activity. You can define time intervals on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or over a custom time interval and for a region of interest. 

Available metrics include the total number of "yes" records and the proportion of "yes" records relative to the total number of records. They also include several approaches for standardizing animal abundances by observer effort over time and space (e.g. mean active bird individuals per hour). This data type can also be explored in the USA-NPN's Visualization Tool

Explore Magnitude Phenometrics »
New info sheet on NPN/FWS partnership

A new one-page info sheet describes the partnership between the USA-NPN and the USFWS. The infosheet contains examples of how we work together to achieve the goals of the USFWS mission, including improving refuge management, informing refuge planning, and engaging the public in science.

It also describes our information management system including our compliance with the Privacy Act and Paperwork Reduction Act. 

See the info sheet »
Upcoming Events
Local Phenology Leader Certification Course

A new round of our Local Phenology Leader Certification Course will begin in January 2018. This online, interactive course will give you guidance on planning your long-term phenology observation program, and walk you through how to use Nature's Notebook. The course will begin January 29, and will run for 10 weeks. The course will take 40-50 hours to complete and costs $55. Application closes December 20th 

Learn more about the course »
Stay Connected
Erin Posthumus
US Fish & Wildlife Service Liaison and Outreach Coordinator
LoriAnne Barnett
Education Coordinator
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