Fast Facts: What is phenology monitoring?
Your day-to-day observations of nature can contribute to citizen science! Plant and animal life stages that occur in an annual cycle, in rhythm with the changing seasons, are called phenophases. Phenology is the study of the timing of these changes. Scientists have found that phenological changes are some of the most sensitive indicators of local effects of global climate change. Monitoring these changes can provide knowledge of how species respond to climate change, and can help predict future changes to better prepare ourselves and our environment for the changing climate.
The challenge is that long-term data on phenophases can take a lot of time and effort to collect. In fact, it is nearly impossible to gather many types of phenology data without the help of citizen scientists - so the work you do is very important!
Rockweed, or knotted rack, is an especially important species to monitor. Observing rockweed throughout its seasonal reproductive cycle can provide a lot of information about water quality conditions during the rockweed’s life.
Volunteer Description: What do rockweed phenology monitors do?
Volunteer Experience: Rockweed monitors attend a two-hour training. After that, they will be responsible for taking weekly observations of rockweed at one coastal location throughout the late spring and early summer. They will upload their observations into an online database. CRV will provide all needed materials and training.
Time Frame: Volunteers will take observations once per week, on their own schedule.
Project Impacts: Our partners at Maine Sea Grant have been monitoring rockweed phenology for many years. Coastal Research Volunteers’ data will be combined with Maine volunteers’ data to contribute to a long-term database, which is available to scientists locally as well as nationally through the National Phenology Network. This type of multi-year database is essential for study of phenology, but hard to obtain because it requires many years of data collection - it couldn’t be done without volunteers like you!
- Interest in visiting the coastline once per week and taking observations
- Ability to upload data on a computer after completing observations
- Learn about, visit, and contribute to knowledge of the local coastline
- Contribute to a long-term phenological dataset
Questions? For more information or if you want to become a rockweed phenology monitor, contact Caitlin Peterson.
Upcoming Opportunities: Join our rockweed phenology monitoring efforts!
Contact Caitlin if you'd like to learn how to be involved!
Learn More: Links, resources, and partner organizations
You can read all about the rockweed phenology program conducted by our partners at Maine Sea Grant, and learn more about nationwide citizen science phenology monitoring by browsing the National Phenology Network website. Interested in seeing one cool application of a large-scale phenology record? Check out these maps showing the advance of springtime throughout the country, based on data collected for a large number of plant phenophases.