Issue: Fall 2018

As the year comes to a close, we take a look at all that our refuge partners accomplished. In 2018, 50 observers recorded data at refuges, up from 38 last year. These observers collected data on 106 species, up from 79 last year. Top contributing refuges included Valle de Oro NWR, Minnesota Valley NWR, and Bayou Sauvage NWR - well done!

The 15 active refuges recorded data on an average of 9.6 species. The top observed plant species were red maple, eastern cottonwood, and bur oak. The top observed animal species were American Robin, Sandhill Crane, and monarch butterfly.

We also welcomed three new refuges on board: J.N. Ding Darling NWR , Patuxent Research Refuge , and Leslie Canyon NWR . Below, we take a look at what refuges are finding through their phenology observations, and share some other resources we think you'll find useful.

Happy Holidays!

Phenology on the Refuges
Summary of monitoring activity on refuges
The number of refuges contributing data to the National Phenology Database has been steadily increasing over the past five years. In 2018 alone, observers on refuges collected over 200,000 data records. Learn more about what these refuges are finding on our USFWS Phenlogy Network website.

Refuge Highlight: Canaan Valley NWR
Canaan Valley NWR has been monitoring phenology of dozens of species over the last four years. One of these species is common milkweed ( Asclepias syriaca ), an important host and nectar plant for monarchs and other pollinators. Observers at Canaan Valley generally start reporting open flowers in July, as indicated by the colored bars below. The duration of reported flowering varies by year.

Check out these new refuge dashboards
Several refuges have recently taken advantage of customized phenology dashboards to display the results of their data collection efforts.

Leslie Canyon NWR began collecting data this past summer to support the Flowers for Bats campaign which seeks to better understand nectar availability for the delisted lesser long-nosed bat.

Big Branch Marsh NWR , Bayou Sauvage NWR , and Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR are all part of the Gulf Coast Phenology Trail, an effort to document the changing phenology of plants and animals from Louisiana to Alabama.

Photo: Gail Bishop
Resources for our Refuge Partners
Create your 2018 Phenology Report
Now is a great time to create an Annual Phenology Report for your Refuge! You can see our recommendations for what to include in a Phenology Report in our  Phenology Report Guide. 

The Guide includes instructions on how to use the USA-NPN's visualization tools to easily make summaries and graphs to include in your report. 

Don't forget to share your report with us when it's done!

Overlooked climate variables predict flowering phenology best
Researchers at UC Santa Barbara combined herbarium records with observations contributed by Nature’s Notebook participants to assess the impact of climate variables on timing of flowering in 2,500 species of plants. The authors found that maximum temperature, the number of frost-free days, and the quantity of precipitation as snow were the best predictors of flowering time for both herbarium and observed data.

A better understanding of the climate variables that drive flowering phenology can help us anticipate how future changes in climate might impact flowering.    

New list of non-native species
The first comprehensive list of non-native species has been compiled by the USGS. The list contains over 11,000 species for three large regions of the US - Alaska, Hawaii, and the conterminous US.

What's new at USA-NPN
Phenology highlighted in the Fourth National Climate Assessment
Phenology is highlighted in the 2018 National Climate Assessment as a 'key indicator of the effects of climate change on ecological communities.' Also included are the USA-NPN's Spring Indices, which show a shift to earlier spring leaf out and bloom across much of the country.

When did observers report fall color?
Nature's Notebook  observers' reports of 50% of more leaf color for Green Wave species in 2018 show consistent patterns with the timing of vegetation brown-down as estimated via the satellite-based MODIS sensor (base map courtesy of J. Gray, M. Friedl and D. Sulia-Menashe 2018).

Watch the USA-NPN 10 year symposium
On October 19th, we brought together USA-NPN partners and  Nature's Notebook  leaders and observers at the home of the USA-NPN's National Coordinating Office in Tucson. There we reflected on the last 10 years of the USA-NPN and envisioned the next 10 years.

Upcoming Events
Learn how to create a phenology program for your Refuge
Our online Local Phenology Leader Certification Course helps you develop a customized phenology monitoring program that will meet your data collection and outreach needs. The next LPL Certification Course will start in January. Applications are now being accepted until December 20th.

Join the Local Phenology Leader Community of Practice
Education Coordinator, LoriAnne Barnett, hosts monthly interactive discussions for Local Phenology Leaders on topics ranging from program planning to ideas for advanced trainings for local participants. Tune in on the third Friday of the month at 10 am Pacific time. The next call on January 18th is a working meeting to create Nature's Notebook curriculum and resources for teaching about the Visualization Tool.

Stay Connected
Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator

LoriAnne Barnett
Education Coordinator