It seems like each week brings new challenges these days! Many of you will be busy getting kids set up with school, either online or in person, starting the college semester, or just holding things together! Outside, plants and animals continue their seasonal cycles, reassuring amid these uncertain times.
We are so grateful to see your observations continue to roll in. The data that you collect are critical to our understanding of how plants and animals are responding to environmental changes from hurricanes to extreme heat to wildfires. As many research efforts have been put on hold or otherwise impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, your data are more important than ever in documenting phenology. Below are a few examples of how researchers are using your data and how you can explore the data yourself through ourVisualization Tool.
Stay safe and hang in there!
What your data are telling us
Invasive species have the upper hand
Invasive shrubs are overwhelming native shrubs in eastern states. Researchers have suspected that early leaf out and late leaf fall gives invasives shrubs an advantage over natives.
In 2015, we worked with Penn State researcher Erynn Maynard-Bean to create theShady Invaderscampaign to document this phenomenon of extended leaf phenology. Over three years, 800Nature's Notebookobservers in 20 states contributed data on invasive and native shrubs across the Eastern U.S. Dr. Maynard-Bean recently published her results with colleagues inBiological Invasions. This knowledge will aid managers in targeting invasive shrubs with early leaves in the spring and late leaves in the fall for removal and treatment.
Pesky Plant Trackersis a newNature's Notebookcampaign that aims to better understand the phenology of invasive Japanese knotweed and wild parsnip to help managers control these species. Check out this great short video from KARE 11 in Minneapolis, MN that explains why this campaign is important and how folks in the Midwest and Northeast can get involved.
Our Seasonal Stories show you examples of what we can learn from the plant and animal phenology data that you contribute toNature's Notebook. Find out whether invasive shrubs leafed out earlier than native shrubs in the Eastern U.S. this year, whether White-winged Doves arrived in time to feed on saguaro flowers in Arizona, and whether maples leafed out earlier at southern latitudes than northern latitudes.
In order to see whether the timing of spring onset is associated with rates of asthma-related hospital admissions, a team of researchers looked at hospitalization data, the timing of spring as measured by satellite data, and pollen monitoring data to determine the length of pollen season. They found that early spring was associated with a 17% increase in hospital admissions for asthma, while a late start of spring was associated with a 7% decrease. Researchers can use information about the timing of spring season to anticipate the severity and timing of allergy season, providing personalized early warning systems that may reduce asthma hospitalizations.
You may have heard that deer and other ungulates "surf the green wave", following peak green-up of grasses on their way from low-elevation winter ranges to montane summer ranges. A new study from researchers at University of Wyoming found drought can shorten the duration of spring green-up, which may be a new threat for migrating deer.
When it comes to reporting on colored leaves, any amount of color (regardless of the reason) means a 'yes'. If reporting on intensity, consider the percent of color in the canopy respective to the canopy at 100% potential fullness—and it might take a year to know what this looks like for your plant.
A million species across the globe are threatened with extinction, according to apreliminary reportfrom the United Nations. The report also found that biodiversity is declining at a much lower ate on lands governed by indigenous peoples. An article fromScientific Americandiscusses how Traditional Ecological Knowledge is complementary to western science in supporting sustainable management and maintaining biodiversity.