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Phenology is the study of how plants' and animals' life stages (phenophases) change over multiple seasons. Phenology looks into the timing of insect emergence and metamorphosis, plant leafout, blooming, fruiting, and foliage change, as well as bird, fish, mammal, and butterfly migration and reproduction.

Many organisms depend on the timing of seasonal changes for survival and reproductive success. Scientists have found that these phenological changes are one of the most sensitive indicators of the local effects of global climate change. Monitoring these changes can provide knowledge regarding how certain species have responded to climate change, and whether species are succeeding in adapting to climate fluctuations. Additionally, monitoring can help predict future changes that may occur to better prepare ourselves and our environment for the changing climate.

Currently, we are lacking data regarding the phenology of many plant and animal species in the New England area that are critical to understanding how organisms are changing. However, your participation can fill this void!

Participating to collect phenological data may seem complicated, but through programs such as our New England Phenology Program's Signs of the Seasons, data collection can be as simple as stepping into your backyard and noting your surroundings. Coastal Research Volunteers is currently partnering with the Maine Sea Grant and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension to establish a training program for volunteers interested in conducting periodic phenology surveys. The data collected will be entered into the National Phenology Network's database to assist scientists locally as well as throughout the country. Check out the NPN website for additional information. Nature's Notebook is the citizen monitoring and data entry portion of the site. To see what our partners in Maine have done with this project, check out their website.

Next phenology training:

June 5, 2015

9:00 am - 12:00 pm

NH Audubon McClane Center
84 Silk Farm Road
ConcordNH 03301

Sign up for the training here


Initial leaf bud phenophase for red maple (Acer rubrum)




Breaking leaf bud phenophase for red maple (Acer rubrum)




Leaves and ripe fruits phenophases for red maple (Acer rubrum)

Phenophases for the red maple (Acer rubrum). 1. Leaf buds. 2. Breaking leaf buds. 3. Leaves and ripe fruit.

Images provided by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.