Compiling this newsletter, I feel stronger than ever about the mission you all support - promoting a broad understanding of plant and animal phenology and its relationship with environmental change. Phenology affects nearly all aspects of the environment, including the abundance, distribution, and diversity of organisms, ecosystem services, food webs, and global cycles of water and carbon. The data that you collect help scientists, resource managers and the public to better understand and protect these aspects of the environment.

Just in the last two months, an article was published showing that spring is advancing in our beloved National Parks, and another article affirmed the great contributions of citizen scientists to biodiversity monitoring across the globe. Plus, we surpassed our lofty goal of 2 million records submitted to Nature's Notebook this year, meaning more science questions will be answered, more management decisions will be informed, and more people will learn about the importance of phenology.  

Here at USA-NPN, we want to express our continuing commitment to the work that you all support, and our sincere appreciation to all of you dedicated Nature's Notebook observers. Each observation you make is important. Thank you for being a part of our team.      

What your data are telling us
Photo: Brian F Powell
Spring advancing in 3 of every 4 National Parks

A new study by researchers at the USA National Phenology Network, US Geological Survey, University of Arizona, Schoodic Institute, Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee shows that climate change is already happening on public lands. The authors found that spring is advancing in 76% of the 276 Parks studied, and 53% of parks are experiencing extreme early springs that exceed 95% of historical conditions.  Better knowledge of warming trends will help Parks 
to treat invasive species, operate visitor facilities, and schedule popular 
climate-related events,  such as flower festivals and fall leaf-viewing.  

Learn what Shady Invaders told us this year

Shady Invaders is a project created with researchers at Penn State University to explore the timing of leafing on invasive and native shrubs. Invasive shrubs are becoming increasingly common in eastern forests, and some have been found to break bud earlier and maintain leaves later than native shrubs. This can have benefits to the invasive shrubs (e.g. longer period of photosynthesis) and impacts to native flora and fauna (e.g. novel shading and competition early and late in the growing season). 

In this webinar, Erynn Maynard, researcher at Penn State University, 
will explain why your observations of invasive and native shrubs are 
important, and tell you what we  learned from observations of Shady 
Invaders species  this year. The webinar will be on November 29th, 
10am PST, 11am MST, 12pm CST, 1pm EST. 
What's new at  Nature's Notebook  and USA-NPN
Two million records submitted this year              

Wow! We are so impressed by all of you dedicated Nature's Notebook observers - you have already submitted over 2 million observation records this year! That means that you helped us reach our goal with nearly 2 months remaining in 2016.  

Let's see how far past 2 million we can get this year. Keep those observations coming!    

Phenology Primer for Plants now available              

It's here! The first section of the Phenophase Primer is now available for download. This beautifully illustrated guide provides detailed information on how to identify each of the phenophases we ask you to observe on the Nature's Notebook datasheets. 

Please note that this is a draft version; a final version with information about conifers and more photos will be released next year. Once all three sections are complete, we will offer a printed and bound copy, much 
like we do for the popular Botany Primer  

Recent happenings in the field
Photo: USFWS Headquarters via Wikimedia Commons
Large herbivores track high-protein forage

Finding high-quality foraging areas is crucial for hungry herbivores in the spring months. Researchers of a new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B studied five species of herbivores in Wyoming and Utah to see whether animals matched their movements with the spring green-up of their forage across the landscape. They found that 7 of the 10 populations studied selected patches of forage in the early growth stage, supporting the hypothesis that these animals track the green wave. Learning more about how animals select habitat patches, and how 
much flexibility exists in their behavior, will help managers to protect these 
species in the face of future climate change and land development.

Photo: Brian F Powell
Citizen science makes important contributions to biodiversity monitoring

A new study lead by an international team of researchers and published in Biological Conservation found that citizen science is already making important contributions to large-scale international biodiversity monitoring. Citizen science programs are monitoring species occurrence,  abundance, and phenology across the globe.  Nature's 
Notebook  is  highlighted as one of the programs that documents  species 
traits and  community composition, and is readily scalable, through 
integration of ground and satellite observations.  The authors make 
recommendations  for how  citizen science can be expanded to better 
cover certain geographic  locations, taxa, and aspects of biodiversity like 
population structure and  dispersal of young animals. 

Nature's Notebook Nuggets
Photo: Ellen G Denny
A year of phenophases for a conifer

Nature's Notebook includes conifer species of three types: those having deciduous needles, those with fascicled needles (the pines), and evergreen conifers having single or clustered needles that are not like a pine's needles and are not deciduous. We take a quick look at the phenophases that Nature's Notebook observes within their annual cycle: the seasonal progression of new needles, male pollen cones, and female seed cones. 

Photo: Brian F Powell
So many Nature's Notebook Nuggets to explore

We covered a lot of topics this year in our Nature's Notebook Nuggets series, including tips for recording initial growth, how to know when a phenophase begins and ends, and the reason you might want to observe more than one individual of each species. You can find all these Nuggets and more on our website and brush up on your Nature's Notebook knowledge. 

More ways to get involved
Find citizen science opportunities where you live
Our Education Coordinator, LoriAnne Barnett, recently teamed up with Park Ranger colleagues from the Army Corps of Engineers at the 2016 National Association for Interpretation Conference for a presentation on the importance of citizen science in gathering critical data for research and management. 

There are many opportunities for citizens to participate in a variety of research projects sponsored by parks, natural areas, botanic gardens, and more, across the US.  The next time you visit your favorite 
Environmental Education location, check to see if they engage in citizen 
science. If not, consider asking staff to contact  
for information on how they can implement a long-term Nature's Notebook 
phenology monitoring program that you can contribute to when you visit. 

Photo: Brian F Powell
What resources do you need?

Are there particular areas in Nature's Notebook where you feel you need further instruction? Let us know! Give us your ideas for future instructional videos, text guides, or webinars that would help you to become a better Nature's Notebook observer. You can help guide the resources we develop next year. 

Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator