I recently returned from a conference of the  Citizen Science Association, which celebrates a diversity of citizen science programs and provides a platform for people to share ideas and resources. I was struck by how far the field of citizen science has come, encompassing topics as diverse as water quality testing, galaxy classification, and fighting Alzheimer's. Citizen science has become a movement, and the world is taking notice!   
 
And Nature's Notebook is right in the middle of it. During the conference, I saw the work of Nature's Notebook observers and Local Phenology Leaders featured in documentary series  SciGirls and the Crowd and the Cloud, included in presentations and posters, and reflected in the recognition of your contributions in everyone I met. 

You should all be proud of the work you do to collect meaningful, high-quality phenology data that are being used by researchers and resource managers all over the world to better understand how our environment is changing.  

With gratitude,
  
 
What your data are telling us
Climate change is unraveling natural cycles

In our last newsletter, we explained that spring arrived unusually early this year across most of the US. But is three more weeks of beautiful spring weather a bad thing? For many species, yes. Earlier springs can disrupt the natural linkages between dependent species, such as pollinators becoming mismatched with their nectar plants, and migratory birds arriving to their breeding grounds with no caterpillars to eat. Your Nature's Notebook observations are a critical part of helping researchers learn about how phenology of different species is shifting, both in time and relative to other species. 
Your data are valuable to ecological research
Photo: CPP

The information you collect through  Nature's Notebook helps scientists to understand more about the timing of life cycle events of plants and animals. This information can be compared to with temperature and precipitation measurements to understand how climate influences the timing of activity. 

In a recent article published in the Journal of Ecology, researchers used Nature's Notebook data to shed light on which climate variables influence leafing and flowering of oak trees. This study was only possible due to the large dataset on oak species collected by Nature's 
Notebook observers across the country. 

What's new at  Nature's Notebook  and USA-NPN
Sign up for Reminders to Observe                   


Do you have trouble remembering to make your Nature's Notebook observations each week? You can now sign up for weekly Reminders to Observe delivered directly to your inbox! Find the sign-up button on the right hand side of your Observation Deck. 
 
Leaderboards track top contributing observers

The Leaderboards keep track of the Nature's Notebook
observers who have contributed the most phenology observations. You can see the top observers by week, month, year, and all time.  We recently discovered that we were accidentally double counting observations for some observers. Check out the Leaderboards to see if your name is now on top!
Recent happenings in the field
Elecia Crumpton,
University of Florida
Songbirds can't keep up with shifting spring

A new study in the journal Scientific Reports reveals certain migratory songbirds are unable to keep up with the shifting start of spring. The authors used satellite imagery to track the start of spring green-up, which provides food for caterpillars and other insects. These insects are important food sources for birds during their journey and as they arrive at their summer breeding grounds. 

The authors found that of 48 species studied, 9 displayed a mismatch between spring green-up and their arrival date. The gap between green-up and arrival increased by over half a day per year. Mismatch between a bird and the peak in its food source can impact survival of adults and young, with cascading effects across generations.  

Extremely early springs accelerate leafing phenology
Photo: Joseph OBrien USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Extremely early springs such as the spring of 2012 are predicted to increase in frequency in future years, and much is still unknown about how leafing phenology will respond. Authors of a new study tracked the phenology of 43 populations of white ash and found that during the extreme year of 2012, ash leafed out an average of 21 days earlier than the non-extreme years. Changes in phenology can greatly impact a plant's survival, as leaf-out in a seemingly early spring can put the plant at risk to damage from late-season frosts and freezes. Knowing when plants will leaf out can help farmers and gardeners to know when to plant crops and cover vulnerable early spring buds.
 

Nature's Notebook Nuggets
How to correct errors in your phenology data

In our last Nugget, we described how to tell the difference between a leaf bud and a flower bud. If you realize that you reported a bud or another phenophase in error, never fear! You can easily edit the observations you entered on your Observation Deck. 

Log into your Nature's Notebook account, and visit the Enter Observation Data page. Use the blue arrows to navigate back to the observations you need to correct. Fix your observations, then click Submit Observations. Note that if you need to correct the date of your observation, you will need to copy your observations over into a new column with the correct date. 


More ways to get involved
From Thoreau's pen to observation drones
Photo: Meera Subramanian

The field of phenology includes a diverse array of data collection techniques, and the field is constantly growing. Early phenologists recorded their observations of plant and animal life cycle changes in journals. Contemporary phenologists use apps and even drones to study these changes.  A recent article from UnDark describes the ever-evolving field of phenology and the new advances helping us understand the environment that surrounds us. 

Boyle Lab, KSU
The subtle changes in grassland phenology 

Grasslands might not have the dramatic green-up in spring or bright colors of fall foliage as temperate systems do, but the changes in phenology are still impressive! A new video from Kansas State's Boyle Lab showcases a year in the life of a tallgrass pararie. 

You can track the phenology of grasses in Nature's Notebook! Our Southwest Season Trackers Campaign focuses on grasses found in New Mexico and other Southwest states. See the full list of grasses on 


Photo: Greg Wilker, USFWS
Spring means renewed activity of mammals

Warmer temperatures bring an increase in activity for mammals of all sizes. Tiny bats migrate north from their wintering grounds, marmots emerge from hibernation, and bears and ungulates move to their spring and summer feeding grounds. Learn about the mammal phenology that students at University of Alaska's Museum of the North are seeing this spring in a recent article in the Daily News-Miner

Contact
 
Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator
520-621-1670
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