A Milestone Reached: One Million Records in USA-NPN Database!

Observer studies a plant
Mon, May 07, 2012

We reached one million observation records in the database on Monday, April 30, 2012! That's one million standardized records on the status of a phenophase for a plant or animal, collected by participants in Nature's Notebook, citizen and professional scientists across the nation.

Our first records in the contemporary system are from Erin Lindquist,  a professor at Meredith College, an all-women’s college in Raleigh NC. Twenty four students in Dr. Lindquist's Plant Biology class  participated in a plant phenology project, in Fall 2008. Students collected phenology data from 12 species of trees in Meredith Forest. They observed 458 permanently tagged trees of the 12 species multiple times over the semester for a total of 15840 records.  The students learned how to make careful field observations and gained new insights on how plant phenology patterns relate to climate.  Because they were contributing to a shared online database, they were motivated to conduct the project professionally.

Lucille Tower observing vine maple

Three and a half years later, and all the way across the country, in Portland, OR, Lucille Tower submitted the millionth observation record.  Lucille observed vine maple flowering on the Portland Budwatch Phenology Trail. A USA-NPN partner, Portland Budwatch is coordinated by Marion Dresner and Kerissa Fucillo at Portland State University. The group has set up several phenology trails in downtown Portland, and trained over 100 volunteers.

We're excited about the quantity of observations - and what it means for potentially answering the big questions. Reaching this milesone has been a group effort - not possible without all of the dedicated, observant volunteers who participate in Nature's Notebook, the vision of the Network founders, and the efforts of our staff and partners. Check out a Q&A with Lucille here.