I hope you are finding time to get outdoors and record phenological happenings amidst the holiday season! Are you noticing any unusual sightings this fall? In some locations, increased drought, heat waves, and extreme events like hurricanes are making it harder to track autumn color. Trees are responding to unusual weather events by changing leaf color quickly, or dropping leaves early.

Fall phenology is not the only season where shifts are being documented. New research from Dr. Lin Meng, post-doctoral researcher at UC Berkeley, using Nature's Notebook data, indicates that trees in urban areas, influenced by increased warmth and light, are blooming earlier than those in more rural areas. You can hear Dr. Meng and USA-NPN Director Theresa Crimmins discuss the implications of the study on NPR's All Things Considered. Read on for more examples of how your data are being used to better understand changes in phenology.
What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN
Seeking a new Volunteer Coordinator
We're hiring! The USA-NPN is hiring a Volunteer Engagement Coordinator to lead recruitment and retention activities for Nature's Notebook. The Coordinator will bring fresh, innovative ideas to the program and focus specific recruitment efforts on audiences traditionally underrepresented in the science fields. They will join an enthusiastic team, a flexible, supportive work environment, and enjoy outstanding benefits offered at the University of Arizona. Applications reviewed as received; position to start in early 2022. We'd love to have someone familiar with Nature's Notebook in this position - please share widely with your networks!

New Seasonal Stories to explore
What patterns are we seeing in your data this year? Our Seasonal Stories teach you how to use the USA-NPN's Visualization Tool to create maps, charts, and graphs of phenology data from across the country. We recently added some new Stories about monarchs and nectar plants in the Midwest, fall color of oaks in the Northeast, the relationship of summer temperature and fall color in maples in the Southeast, and more!

Tracking phenology on a restored prairie
How do you know if restoration is effective? Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, east of Des Moines, IA, was established to restore agricultural land to the tallgrass prairie, oak woodland, and sedge meadow that used to cover the area. Since 2017, staff and volunteers at Neal Smith NWR have tracked phenology of the species that have reestablished on the Refuge - monarchs, milkweeds, and nectar plants - to see whether these migrating butterflies are in synch with their host plants. A new article in Fish and Wildlife News details what observers are learning from their Nature's Notebook observations.

Photo: USFWS
Recent happenings in the field of phenology
Nature's Notebook lends power to the study of rare species
Thanks to phenology observations from both arboreta and those collected by Nature’s Notebook observers, researchers were able to predict how rare and understudied species may respond to climate change. Collaborations with botanical gardens and arboreta are critical to continuing to build our understanding of changing phenology.

Photo: John Hagstrom,
The Morton Arboretum
Especially for Local Phenology Leaders
Get ready to share your successes!
Each December we ask you to complete an Annual Local Phenology Program Survey to share your successes and challenges from the year and let us know how we can better support you. We'll be sending out the survey next week. In the meantime, check your LPP listing and let us know if you have any changes to your description or the link to your website. You can also get a jump start on your survey (and submission to our 2021 Pheno Champion award!) by completing an Impact Statement describing the value of your work.

How to keep up interest in winter?
The coming winter season and decreased phenology activity prompted a question on our Nature's Notebook Community Forum - how do I keep my volunteers engaged when there is not much happening with the plants and animals we observe? Experienced Local Phenology Leaders shared their tips on how to keep volunteer interested - start a phenology book club or practice tree identification using bark or twig and bud configuration. See the tips and book recommendations on our Forum.

New Community Science journal
Community Science is a new open access journal dedicated to publishing outcomes of community-driven science. Article types include Practice Reports including case studies of how communities and scientists are working together to advance community priorities and Project Reports describing data that can be used by communities to address local concerns. USA-NPN staff are happy to collaborate on manuscripts with LPPs who are interested in publishing about their programs using Nature's Notebook - contact

Related resources
Give your input on climate issues
Please join the authors of the Fifth National Climate Assessment for a virtual workshop on January 11, 2022 from 12-4pm ET to share your thoughts on the climate change-related issues most important to include in the Ecosystems, Ecosystem Services, and Biodiversity chapter.

This workshop is free and open to the public including scientists, professionals, volunteers, and interested parties. The information gathered will help authors decide which topics to cover in their chapter of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, a major U.S. Government report on how climate change affects people and places in the United States.

A more realistic conservation mindset
Land managers face many challenges from climate change, and limited resources to address those challenges. Many managers are shifting from a traditional conservation mindset to one where they must determine, on a case by case basis, which changes to resist, which changes to try to work with, and which to simply accept. An article from Thomson Reuters Foundation provides examples of these choices.

Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator