Issue: Winter 2021

Happy 2021! Tucson, Arizona, where our National Coordinating Office sits, received a much-welcomed rain this week after too many weeks (months?) of dry weather. It sure felt fitting among many transitions and fresh starts this week. This year I am looking forward to supporting refuge partners to start and sustain phenology monitoring programs, exploring new ways to communicate the value of phenology data and the tools we have available such as our Status of Spring on the National Wildlife Refuge System, and creating monitoring protocols to aid understanding of nectar availability for pollinators.

While I look forward these activities, I also recently enjoyed reflecting on the past year and all of our activities in support of this USA-NPN/USFWS partnership. We expanded tools to enable refuges to visualize phenology on a landscape scale, engaged new refuge partners, and explored additional data products and information that we can provide to aid USFWS staff in their management actions. I hope you'll take a few minutes to read our 2020-2021 Annual Report about all that we accomplished together!

Best wishes for 2021,
Phenology on the Refuges
Bringing together phenology data
Patuxent Research Refuge began collecting phenology data with Nature's Notebook in 2018, though they had started collecting phenology data on a variety of plants back in 2012. This past winter we imported their existing phenology data into our Database so that they can visualize all of their phenology data in one location on their Phenology Dashboard.

Do you have existing phenology data at your refuge? Let me know and we can work with you to import it into our Database!

Will spring arrive early on your refuge?
Our Status of Spring tool tells you where spring leaf out in early season plants has arrived and whether it's early or late on your refuge compared to a long-term average. The first refuges have just started to reach the requirements of spring, including Key West NWR, at right. Spring was 0.9 days late, on average, across the Refuge this year.

Resources for our Refuge Partners
Preparing wildlife for climate change
A new article from LeDee and colleagues in the Journal of Wildlife Management assesses the current management recommendations related to climate change adaptation. Common strategies included protected areas, adaptive management, assisted migration, and conservation easements, while few recommendations were at the local scale.

Photo: USFWS
Light pollution benefits mismatched birds
Authors of a new study published in the journal Nature sought to understand how human-caused light and noise pollution might pose additional challenges to birds impacted by climate change. They found that light pollution caused birds to nest a month earlier in open environments and 18 days earlier in forested environments. This advance in timing allowed the birds to catch up to earlier spring onset and availability of food, resulting in better nesting success. Managers can use this information to know which species are at greater risk from climate change impacts, and prioritize habitat for vulnerable species. Communities can also use this information to assess their own light and sound footprints.

Photo: Tom Grey
What's new at USA-NPN
Practice your skills with a new quiz!
We've added a brand new Module to our Nature's Notebook Observer Certification Course! This new Module, Practice Making Observations, guides you through the process of making observations on a deciduous tree. A quiz at the end of the Module tests your new skills. We will add more modules in the coming year, so stay tuned!

Unusual bloom timing last fall
Nature's Notebook observers reported some oddly-timed flowering for species across the country this fall. This great article from Yale Climate Connections discusses some causes of fall flowering including drought, heatwaves, and other stressors. According to, this fall was the warmest on record in some locations.

Upcoming Events
Citizen Science Course at NCTC
Are you interested in learning more about how you can implement a citizen science program at your refuge? Learn about the benefits of citizen science for science and outreach in a training at NCTC this February 2 - March 9. There are still spaces available!

Stay Connected
Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator and USFWS Liaison