Happy spring, according to the calendar anyway! Are you seeing signs of spring where you live? There is a lot of activity here in Tucson, where acacias are blooming, lizards are waking up, and birds are well into their nesting season. We look forward to seeing what you report this season. Maybe you'll join one of our new or returning Nature's Notebook campaigns this year?

For our Local Phenology Program members - below, we describe a new effort to help you understand and analyze your phenology data. We really want your input on your needs and how you want this information delivered, so be sure to fill out our short survey!

What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN
Welcome Samantha, the USA-NPN's new Volunteer Engagement Coordinator!
We are very excited to introduce Samantha Brewer, our new Volunteer Engagement Coordinator. Samantha communicates with new and existing Nature’s Notebook observers and organizations through engaging activities, newsletters, campaigns, and training materials. She is also working to identify communities that are underrepresented in the scientific field and help them develop programs to fit their needs. Samantha helps lead the Local Phenology Leader Certification Course, and supports the Local Phenology Leader Community of Practice.

Samantha has a background in biology and has worked across the state of Arizona studying avian ecology. She also brings experience an educator, and has taught at both the college level and K-12 settings. Prior to working for the USA-NPN, she worked as an educator and Certified Local Phenology Leader for the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson.

New Nature's Notebook species for 2022
This year, we added many new plant species and two insects to Nature’s Notebook, including leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.) and mason bees (Osmia spp.) at the genus level. There are now 1,650 total species for you to chose from!

We have also revised the “Breaking leaf buds”, "Young leaves" and "Leaves" phenophase definitions to avoid confusion about when a leaf is considered "unfolded". 

Leafcutter bee, Credit: Marcello Consolo via
Quercus Quest! Track oak phenology
Oak trees have a complex relationship with their ecosystems - different species can hybridize with each other which can affect the insects and fungi that depend on them. Information about when oak trees leaf and flower can shed light on these complexities. We are seeking observers to join our new Quercus Quest campaign and track the flowering and leafing timing of oak trees across the eastern US this year.

Guide to observing in the field
We're created a quick guide to help you set up your Nature's Notebook site outside! This guide includes everything from the How to Observe Handbook that you might want to print and take outside with you. See tips on how to select a site and select individual plants, how to mark your site and plants, how often to make observations, and more.

Recent happenings in the field of phenology
Shifting rainfall impacts Florida butterfly
Many research studies investigate the impact of increasing temperatures on plant and animal phenology; fewer look at the impact of changes in rainfall. Researchers behind a new study found populations of the Miami blue butterfly declined when rainfall was delayed. While changes in precipitation due to climate change are harder to predict than temperature, this study offers some insight to how this species may respond.

Miami blue butterfly,
Credit: Mark Yokohama,
New challenges for pollinators
Authors of a new article in Frontiers in Plant Science conducted an experiment in the UK and found that a 1.5 degree increase in temperature reduced flower abundance and amount of nectar per flower, reduced seed production for some species, and caused pollinators to visit a greater diversity of food resources in search of food. Closer to home, California almonds that bloom earlier and more rapidly pose a challenge for honeybees that cannot keep up with the rate of flower opening.

Pros and cons of longer seasons
Since the 1900s, the average length of the growing season in the Continental US has increased by two weeks. This is good news for those who want to growing plants more suitable for southern latitudes across a larger part of the year. The bad news is it gives insect pests and invasive plants more time to reproduce and expand their range, it causes portions of ranges to be unsuitable for native plants, and it can result in asynchronies between dependent species. One other con - new research shows that pollen season is predicted to become longer and more severe.

Deviation from average length of growing season,
Especially for Local Phenology Leaders
Phenology data analysis guidance
This month in our LPL Monthly Calls, we began a new effort to help you understand and analyze the phenology data that you collect. We are looking for additional input on what kinds of questions you are trying to answer, the barriers that prevent you from using your data, and what format you would prefer to receive information about how to understand and analyze your data. Your responses will shape the data analysis guidance that we create. We want to hear from you!

Congratulations, newly Certified LPLs!
Congratulations to the newly Certified Local Phenology Leaders who completed the LPL Certification Course last fall: Kirsten Bell (CO), Bryan Graybill (NC), Bryan Hendrickson (CA), Rachel Hewitt (AZ), Sarah Dickenson (NC), Chris Tolman (MN), Daniel Ramirez (GA), Kevin Thorson (AZ), and Abby Yancy (PA). We can't wait to see all that you do with your Programs!

We have another great group Leaders taking the course this spring!

April is Citizen Science month
April is a time to celebrate all things citizen science. Consider planning an event for your Local Phenology Program next month! SciStarter can help you recruit participants by hosting your event on their website. They also have resources to help you plan.

Related resources
New phenology children's book
A new book from author Julie Dunlap, I Begin with Spring: The Life and Seasons of Henry David Thoreau, explores seasonal changes during the times of Thoreau. Beautiful illustrations from Megan Elizabeth Baratta create the feeling of a nature journal that follows plants and animals through the seasons.

Post-doctoral opening at Cornell University: phenological modeling and airborne pollen
The Katz Lab in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY is seeking a postdoctoral researcher to develop predictive models of the timing of pollen release for wind-pollinated trees in North America. The candidate will analyze observations of flowering and pollen release from the USA-NPN as a function of satellite-based measurements of land surface temperature and environmental variables.

Photo: Dan Katz
Call for papers: Special issue of Flora
The journal Flora is currently soliciting papers for a special issue titled "Ecology and evolution of plant-pollinator interactions: the importance of natural history."

Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator