Issue: Fall 2019

December is a great time to reflect back on what we learned over the course of the year. Below, we take a look at results from two of our Nature's Notebook campaigns that are focused on tracking changes in the food availability for migrating species. We also look back at what our Gulf Coast Phenology Trail partners learned from their data collection efforts in 2018. Also, we summarize a few phenology research articles that may be of interest to you in your work next year.

Best wishes to you all for the coming year. Thank you for being part of the Network!

Phenology on the Refuges
Results from the Gulf Coast Pheno Trail
The Gulf Coast Phenology Trail is a collaboration to understand how phenology is changing in Gulf Coast ecosystems. Partners in this effort include four National Wildlife Refuges, a National Park, a National Estuarine Research Reserve, a Marine Education Center, and others. In 2018, 91 observers collected over 88,000 phenology records on native and invasive plants at 20 sites.

Nectar is available when monarchs need
Nectar Connectors is a data collection campaign aimed at collecting data on nectar availability for monarchs and other pollinators. This year, 289 observers reported on flowering of nectar plants across the country. Generally, flowers were available when and where monarchs need them during their migration.

Partners in AZ tracking flowers for bats
This year, fifteen partners and 21 independent volunteers tracked flowering of over a hundred agave and cacti across Southern Arizona as part of the Flowers for Bats campaign. This effort will help USFWS to understand how nectar availability is linked to climate and whether it is shifting out of sync with the period when bats migrate to and raise their young in Arizona and New Mexico.

Resources for our Refuge Partners
Changes in length of the spring season
Authors of a new article in  Geophysical Research Letters , including USA-NPN's own Theresa Crimmins, used temperature data to look at long-term changes in the spring season. The authors analyzed 70 years of accumulated temperature thresholds connected with biological events in plants and animals. In many areas, these thresholds are occurring six to 20 days earlier than they did 70 years ago. The change is inconsistent across regions, with some areas seeing a lengthening in some regions and shortening in others.

These changes have potential to disrupt species development and migration behaviors.

Figure from Crimmins and Crimmins 2019,
Geophysical Research Letters

Flowering phenology and flammability
In an upcoming issue of  Ecological Indicators , Emery and colleagues used USA-NPN flowering data on the widespread California shrub species   Adenostoma fasciculatum   to investigate the relationship between live fuel moisture and plant phenology.

This study found a strong correlation between these metrics, demonstrating how using plant phenology patterns can be applied to inform fire management decisions at large spatial scales.

Climate change impacts on huckleberry
Huckleberry is an important food resource in the Pacific Northwest of North America.  Prevé y  and colleagues have recently constructed models to investigate how both the range and the phenology of this species is expected to shift with climate change in an upcoming issue of  Agricultural and Forest Meteorology .

The habitat of this species is expected to shrink, with flowering and fruiting predicted to advance substantially over future decades.

Deer giving birth earlier due to warming
Authors of a new study published in  Plos Biology found evidence that global warming is causing red deer in Scotland to give birth earlier in the year. Calves have been born about three days earlier per decade since the 1980s. The authors believe this is at least partly due to a selection for genes that cause the deer to give birth earlier.

This is one of the first documented cases of evolution in response to climate change in animals.

Photo: Massimo Catarinella, via Wikimedia Commons
Bird survival by degrees
Authors of a study published in  Science found that we have  lost 2.9 billion birds (that's one in four) since 1970. A new tool from Audubon,  Survival by Degrees , explores the species most under threat from climate changes. You can enter your location and see the birds most at-risk near you.

What's new at USA-NPN
2.5 million NEON records added to the National Phenology Database
The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) uses USA-NPN observational protocols to track plant phenology. In October we ingested over 2.5 million phenology data records collected on more than 5,000 individual plants observed at 78 NEON sites into the USA-NPN's Database. You can explore these data in our Visualization Tool and download them via the Phenology Observation Portal .

Land surface phenology maps available
The USA-NPN has released maps of land surface phenology indicators of greenness derived from MODIS Collection 6 satellite data. These maps show the timing of green-up and green-down across the continental United States spanning 2010-2017. 

This suite of products can be used to ask questions such as, where has spring leaf-out occurred earlier in recent years? How variable is leaf color change is across the United States? and, Where do we see the most total greenness across the growing season?

10-year update on the USA-NPN
In a special presentation for the USGS' public lecture series, USA-NPN founding director Jake Weltzin gave an overview of the last 10 years of the USA-NPN, highlighting how the Network has grown over the years and touching on our future directions.

Upcoming Events
Become a Local Phenology Leader
Ready to start your own program? Take our online course to become a Certified Local Phenology Leader ! Courses run 10 weeks and are offered in spring and fall. A 3-week short course is offered in the summer. The next course will begin January 27th, 2020. You can sign up on the interested list now to receive notification when the application is available in the next few weeks.

Host your own phenology workshop!
Do you want to start a phenology monitoring program on your refuge to collect data on seasonal activity of plants and animals and engage volunteers at the same time? Our staff have funding available to travel to your refuge and walk you through the creation of a phenology program implementation plan. Get a workshop set up this Winter and be ready to start data collection next spring!

Training participants at
Grand Bay NWR/NERR
Stay Connected
Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator and USFWS Liaison

LoriAnne Barnett
Education Coordinator