Extension Trains New Citizen Scientists
Mary Campbell, Extension Director and Urban Sustainability Agent
Phenology is the study of recurring life-cycle events, such as the flowering of plants and animal migration. Monitoring the changes to life cycle events is very important for addressing applied environmental issues like climate variability and change. The data collected adds to the overall understanding of changes to life cycles of local plants and animals. The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) monitors the influence of climate on the phenology of plants, animals, and landscapes. A national network was set up in 2007 to make more data available for a larger variety of plants and animals to assist scientists.
Changes have been noted in the timing of bud break in the spring for certain plants, movement of pests into new areas, and changes in migration patterns of wildlife. Anyone can participate in this program to provide additional observed data to scientists and research organizations. An online data base and other tools are available through Nature’s Notebook. A printed questionnaire of specific information is used to record data and a very simple method is provided to make sure data is consistent.
There are not enough scientists to collect all the data we need to study the effects of climate change on local plants and wildlife”, said George Kish, Project Manager with the USA-National Phenology Network. “That is why we need everyone’s help in collecting important data to see the impacts in our area and throughout Florida.