December 28, 2022

The year is coming to a close, the holiday season is winding down, and as the Earth completes another rotation around the sun, elephant seals make their way back to Point Reyes beaches to give birth. It’s the circle of life. Thank you for your year-round support of this work – look below for the ways that you’ve helped us understand, conserve, and care for this park.

For many of us, the end of the year marks an important moment in time – it signals celebration, remembrance, new beginnings, and resolutions. Plants and animals, however, operate on a much different schedule. So, what signals the date of a leaf changing colors, animal migrations, and seed production? Well, lots of things.
Nature’s calendar is phenology – the study of biological life cycles. These cycles are often influenced by temperature and precipitation and are sensitive to climate change. Research conducted in Point Reyes, even if it’s not specifically focused on phenology, contributes invaluable insight into plant and animal interactions and behavior in the face of a changing climate.
Park scientists use phenology to make important decisions. Phenology helps us understand when to mitigate the spread of invasive species, when birds build nests, and when fish make their way upstream to lay eggs. As our seasons change, not just annually, but over long periods of time, so does the timing of these natural cycles.  
Nature’s Year in Review
As has happened for millennia, countless phenological events occurred in 2022. Salmonids returned to Point Reyes watersheds to spawn, Swainson’s thrush arrived in the spring to build nests and wildflowers bloomed across the seashore, each at their own pace. Plants and animals have adjusted to seasonal temperature and precipitation differences for ages; however, anthropological climate change adds additional stress and uncertainty for ecosystems. Not all plants and animals are adapting at the same speed, and this can alter how plants and animals interact and rely on each other.
We all play an important role in a shifting climate, and while we might not always realize it, our actions matter. If you’re interested in tracking phenological changes and want to be part of a growing community science project, check out Nature’s Notebook.
Thank you for your continued support of Point Reyes National Seashore, and please consider making an end-of-the-year gift to help us better understand and track seasonal changes. 
All the best,
Sam Chiriboga
Associate Director
Voices at the Seashore
Read this month's Voices at the Seashore Article – In the Weeds on Invasive Species – on efforts to remove nonnative Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) at Point Reyes. Scotch broom might be pretty, but it's a threat to local habitats.

The article follows Biological Technician Colleen Herr, and was written by Fall Science Communication Intern Claire Baker. Read the full article here, and keep an eye out for more articles from Claire over the next couple of months!
UC Climate Stewards Registration
Help your community find resilience in a changing climate...
become a certified Climate Steward!
Climate Stewards is an exciting new Initiative from the University of California Cooperative Extension in partnership with PRNSA. In this program you will learn about the science of climate change, how to communicate more effectively about this issue, and how to help your community adapt.

During this 9-week program (Feb. 28 - Apr. 25) you will take part in online classes and in-person field trips with guest experts while you complete online assignments and a final capstone project to receive your certification from the University of California.
New Classes Added!
Our Field Institute calendar is full of classes – and new classes were added since our last newsletter. Look below for the new additions, and visit our website for the full class list!
Sun, Feb. 5, 10:30am - 1:30pm

Explore and engage with the forest on this is a guided forest walk where children and youth are encouraged to take the lead!

Fri, Feb. 10, 9:00am - 3:30pm

Tomales Bay is an important area for thousands of waterbirds. Visit sites along the shore to observe shorebirds, raptors and more!

Sat, Apr. 15, 9:45am - 3:45pm

Learn individualized strategies for improving performance and confidence on the trail and enjoy a beautiful nature hike.

Sun, Apr. 16, 9:00am - 2:30pm

Enhance your birding skills in Point Reyes! This class will cover bird identification basics plus binocular use and guides.

Fri, Apr. 21, 9:30am - 3:00pm

Hike the scenic headlands to the lighthouse and Chimney Rock. Learn about the park's unique geology and coastal processes.

Sun, Apr. 23, 9:00am - 1:00pm

Spring wildflowers carpet the outer bluffs of Point Reyes. Learn names, uses, and butterfly hosts, then view elephant seals too!

Sat, Apr. 29, 9:30am - 5:00pm

Hike to Sunset Beach and discover a wealth of fossil whale material preserved there. Why are the fossils here and what can they tell us?

Sat, Apr. 29, 9:00am - 4:00pm

Experience and explore the use of seasonal California invasive plants as art materials for inks, watercolor, and environmental restoration.

Sat, Apr. 29, 11:00am - 2:00pm

Explore the butterflies of Muddy Hollow from swallowtails to checkerspots and blues. Observe a variety of species and behaviors!

We partner with the National Park Service to create opportunities for all people to experience, enhance, and preserve Point Reyes National Seashore for present and future generations.
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