Issue: Spring 2017

The field of citizen science continues to grow, as data collection efforts around the world increase their reach and impact. The recent conference of the Citizen Science Association showcased the broad range of scientific studies that are now calling on citizens to contribute. 

The Conference reinforced for us that the USA-NPN is ahead of the game when it comes to many aspects of citizen science - creating data that are used by scientists and resource managers, involving participants in multiple parts of the scientific process, providing feedback and results to participants, and making data and relevant metadata available in an openly accessible format. We are grateful to have the US Fish & Wildlife Service as an important partner in this effort! 



USFWS Liaison
Education Coordinator
Phenology on the Refuges
Photo: Jason Matthias MIlls, 2012, Calphotos
Flowers for Bats launching in SE Arizona
The lesser-long nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenaerelies on nectar and pollen from agave and columnar cacti during its summer migration. The US Fish & Wildlife Service's Ecological Services office in Tucson, in partnership with the USA-NPN, is seeking to better understand where and when nectar sources are available for bats while they are in Southern Arizona raising their young.

This summer, members of the Tucson Phenology Trail and other citizen scientists will monitor the flowering times of three species of agave in southeastern Arizona. This information will be used by the USFWS to conserve and promote habitat for lesser long-nosed bats.    

Photo: Ann Humphrey, USFWS
Informing management of invasives at Midway
Midway Atoll NWR began using Nature's Notebook last summer to learn more about the phenology of invasive golden crownbeard, Verbesina encelioides. The Verbesina plants they have been monitoring have generated sufficient data to estimate the number of days required for this invasive plant to reproduce.

The Refuge has learned that the time it takes for a Verbesina plant to go to seed can vary threefold within a year, from 30 days in summer to nearly 90 in the winter. This information is used in scheduling weed control technician visits to infestation sites, to remove this invasive before it spreads its seeds.

New Resources for our Refuge Partners
Photo: N Carlson
Learn about Nature's Notebook data quality

One of the questions we are frequently asked is "How can I make sure that the data collected by my group are useful?" The quality of your data is greatly influenced by many factors, including the training provided to observers and the frequency of data collection. 

We now have a Data Quality page that reports on some of the metrics that we are using to track the quality of observations submitted to Nature's Notebook. This includes metrics such as the length of time in between the last "no" and first "yes" observation, whether the optional intensity measures were reported, and whether observers are in agreement on phenophase status for a particular plant on any given day.  

Elecia Crumpton, 
University of Florida
Songbirds can't keep up with shifting spring 
A new study in the journal  Scientific Reports reveals certain migratory songbirds are unable to keep up with the shifting start of spring. The authors used satellite imagery to track the start of spring green-up, which provides food for caterpillars and other insects. These insects are important food sources for birds during their journey and as they arrive at their summer breeding grounds. 

The authors found that of 48 species studied, 9 displayed a mismatch between spring green-up and their arrival date. The gap between green-up and arrival increased by over half a day per year. Mismatch between a bird and the peak in its food source can impact survival of adults and young, with cascading effects across generations.

What's New at USA-NPN
Spring Indices maps now available for Alaska
You can now explore gridded maps of the Spring Indices and Accumulated Growing Degree Days for Alaska on the USA-NPN Visualization Tool. Spring arrived in coastal areas of the southern part of Alaska in April, and is moving north across the state.

New activity graphics in Visualization Tool
This summer, we are adding a new graphing option to our Phenology Visualization Tool that will display annual patterns of the timing and magnitude of phenological activity. These will be based on the  proportion of "yes" records, animal abundances per hour and other metrics, summarized over a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly period.  If you would like a sneak preview of the new Activity Metrics 
visualization and a chance to give your feedback, email Erin.

Sign up for Reminders to Observe
Do you have trouble remembering to make your  Nature's Notebook  observations each week? You can now sign up for weekly Reminders to Observe delivered directly to your inbox! Find the sign-up button on the right hand side of your Observation Deck. 

Upcoming Events
Phenology Trails Webinar through NCTC
The USA-NPN has been invited once again to present as part of the National Conservation Training Center's Engaging Youth in Conservation Science Webinar series on July 11, 2017. 

This year, the presentation will highlight the Phenology Trails at the Minnesota Valley NWR. We hope you will attend and learn about how you can create a Phenology Trail at your Refuge to engage the public in collecting useful phenology data.  

Stay Connected
Erin Posthumus
US Fish & Wildlife Service Liaison and Outreach Coordinator
LoriAnne Barnett
Education Coordinator
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