Issue: Spring 2021

Temperatures have been heating up across the country. You can see which locations are ahead of average on our Phenology Visualization Tool. If you want to dive deeper into exploring how heat has accumulated this year at your location, and how this year compares to previous years, you can enter your zip code here.

If you haven't already, check out the USFWS Phenology Network Website, which allows you to learn about how National Wildlife Refuges are using phenology to meet management and outreach objectives, explore the data they collect, and view the forecasting arrival of spring leaf out across the NWRS. The website was recently awarded the US Geological Survey's 2020 Shoemaker Award for Communications Product Excellence for the Website category. As always, I welcome your feedback on how we can make the website even more useful to you!

Phenology on the Refuges
Was spring early on your refuge?
Our Status of Spring tool tells you when spring leaf out in early season plants arrived on your refuge and whether it was early or late compared to a long-term average. For example, at Umbagog NWR, spring leaf out arrived an average of 6.7 days earlier across the Refuge this year than it did from 1981-2010.

Studying pollinators and the plants they need to survive
Neal Smith NWR started collecting phenology data in 2017 on species important to the Refuge including monarch butterflies. They document not only each life cycle stage of monarchs, but also when nectar is available for migrating butterflies, and when milkweed have leaves on which monarchs can lay eggs and on which their caterpillars will feed when they hatch. The activity curve below shows how these dependent life stages overlapped at the Refuge in 2019.

Resources for our Refuge Partners
Decision-making for Forest Pest Risk
Structured decision-making is a method for describing a problem and the potential solutions. It can help decision-makers clearly see the consequences of each potential solution. A new info sheet describes one example of how we worked with partners to use the decision-making framework to inform forest pest management.

Ducks moving north as winters warm
Authors of a new study used decades worth of data from Audubon's Christmas Bird Count to discover that ducks are shortening their fall migrations and wintering in areas farther north than they used to.

What's new at USA-NPN
Improvements to insect protocols
We've updated our Nature's Notebook protocols for aquatic insects (dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies and stoneflies) to include phenophases for egg laying and recently emerged (teneral) adults. All the other species and phenophases you are accustomed to are still here, unchanged, and waiting to be observed!

How your data are being used
Do you ever wonder what happens to your Nature's Notebook data after you hit that Submit button? In our webinar this past February, Director Theresa Crimmins shared many examples of the discoveries that scientists are making with the data you collect.

2020 Highlights from the Network
2020 was a challenging year, but we also accomplished so much together! Our 2020 Annual Report highlights four examples of how we worked with our partners and observers like you to advance science, inform decisions, communicate and connect, and create an equitable and inclusive network.

Upcoming Events
Pollinator Week is June 21 - 27
Consider helping pollinators by getting your refuge involved in our Nectar Connectors campaign! You can also check out for ideas on activities, a toolkit on how to help pollinators, and other educational resources.

Join our Local Phenology Leader calls
Our Local Phenology Leader Monthly Calls allow you to connect with your fellow leaders and learn from their knowledge. We want to hear from you about what topics you would like to focus on in future calls! You can see the list of past call topics and watch video recordings of the calls on our LPL Community of Practice page.

Stay Connected
Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator and USFWS Liaison