I hope that you are enjoying the autumn season so far. Here in Tucson, temperatures have cooled, migratory animals have departed, and, thankfully, it seems mosquitoes are finally ending this year's intense activity brought on by our very wet monsoon.

If you live in the Northeast or Midwest, you might have noticed that fall colors are becoming a little more muted research suggests dulled colors may be due to the warm wet weather this year in the Northeast and extreme drought in the Midwest. Impacts of changing climate are being documented on wildlife as well, as some migratory birds in Britain are no longer migrating south, and brook trout, which depend on cool water temperature for spawning, seem to be synchronized with the apex of fall leaf color change.

Your observations submitted to Nature's Notebook will help to document changes like these to help us understand the impact of climate change on the plants and animals that you observe.

What your data are telling us
Nature's Notebook data key to interpreting remotely-sensed data
Xin et al. (2020) evaluated eight approaches to identifying the start (SOS) and end (EOS) of the growing season in MODIS imagery. The authors validated SOS and EOS estimates with phenology observations contributed to Nature’s Notebook. SOS and EOS estimates varied by as much as 50 days among approaches and recommend using an ensemble of multiple estimates to characterize phenometrics like SOS and EOS. This effort underscores the value of the ground-based observations of phenology that you contribute via Nature's Notebook in interpreting imagery collected by remote instrument.

Photo: Martin LaBar
Impacts of the COVID-19 "anthropause"
How did the change in human activities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic impact wildlife and other aspects of nature? A new study in Biological Conservation by a team of nearly 350 authors, including USA-NPN staff, documented the changes observed in 89 different studies across the globe. There was a mix of positive and negative impacts, as animals in some areas quickly responded to the lack of human presence, while in other areas the reduction in preservation and restoration work resulted in increases in invasive species and illegal hunting activities.

Photo: Tom Grey
What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN
New and returning USA-NPN students
The USA-NPN is fortunate to have six new and returning students this year! Ava Lasater joins our team as an intern with the Integrated Climate Research: Ecology, Water, and Weather project and will explore data from the Local Phenology Program at Tohono Chul, a botanical garden in Tucson. Hayley Limes returns as a NASA Space Grant Intern Advisor, continuing her work with the Time to Restore project. Marisol Ortiz and Tanner Bland continue to support outreach, education, and administrative aspects of the USA-NPN, and graduate students Cristina Curran and Liz Washburn carry on their research in the public health realm, focusing respectively on mosquito vectors and pollen.

USA-NPN student intern Ava Lasater with ICREWW
USA-NPN Director selected for NCA team
The fifth National Climate Assessment is underway, and will provide the latest assessment of the impact of climate change on the U.S. USA-NPN Director Theresa Crimmins is serving as an author on the Ecosystems chapter, bringing insight to the NCA Team about phenology as an indicator of climate change impacts.

Early next year, author teams will host virtual workshops in the assessment's earliest stages to share information, listen to stakeholder needs, and ensure the report chapter’s scope will meet end-users’ needs. Stay tuned for invitations to participate in these NCA public engagement workshops.

Recent happenings in the field of phenology
Invasive shrubs cool the forest floor
The data that you collected as part of our Shady Invaders campaign helped researchers better understand extended leaf phenology of invasive shrubs their ability to leaf out sooner and hold onto leaves longer than native shrubs. A related study by the researcher behind the campaign, Erynn Maynard-Bean, found that the presence of invasives reduced light and air temperature on the forest floor. As Maynard-Bean told Science Daily, each growing season, the presence of invasives is like the removal of "a 60-watt lamp in every 10 square feet of the forest."

Climate change impacts where you live
What impact is climate change already having where you live? Climate Signals is a new map-based tool that lets you explore how climate change worsens extreme events like heat waves, drought, and hurricanes. Phenology is highlighted as an indicator on the Habitat Shift or Decline part of the tool.

Nature's Notebook Nuggets
Are two plants better than one?
For your Nature’s Notebook plant observations, we ask you to observe two to three individuals of each plant species at each of your sites, if you have them available. Observing more than one individual plant allows you to capture the individual variation in phenological events that can be caused by many factors including genetics and microclimate. It will produce a more accurate picture of the timing of phenophases for a species at your site.

More ways to get involved
Positive signs for Western monarchs
After an all-time low of less than 2,000 butterflies last year at the California overwintering sites of Western monarch butterflies, there is some hope from early counts this year. Thousands are already showing up at some sites, according to a new blog post from Western Monarch Count.

Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator