USA NPN National Phenology Network

Taking the Pulse of Our Planet

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The USA-NPN, phenology, and our partners are often in the news. Follow some recent stories below.

Image credit:
Sara N. Schaffer


  • Unusual Bloom Timing this Fall
    Friday, December 18, 2020

    Nature's Notebook observers reported some oddly-timed flowering for species across the country this fall. This great article from Yale Climate Connections discusses some causes of fall flowering including drought, heatwaves, and other stressors. According to, this fall was the warmest on record in some locations.

    Explore the data »

    Winter Seasonal Story 2020

  • Fall colors in maples, oaks and poplars across the US
    Monday, September 21, 2020

    Hundreds of Nature's Notebook observers across the country are tracking the fall leaf color of plants including maples, oaks, and poplars. On our map below, you can see that while there is a range in the start of fall leaf color in all regions this year.

    Explore the data in our Visualization Tool »

    Fall Seasonal Story 2020
  • Phenology at ESA 2020
    Monday, July 20, 2020

    Ecological Society of America Virtual Meeting banner

    USA National Phenology Network staff and partners will be attending the Ecological Society of America's virtual meeting from August 3-6, 2020.

    Find us at the following sessions:

    SYMP 4: Indigenous Phenology: New Mindsets for Working Among Worldviews (17264)

    Alyssa H. Rosemartin1,2Valerie Small3,4Katie Jones5,6, (1)National Coordinating Office, USA National Phenology Network, Tucson, AZ, (2)School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, (3)Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe, (4)Trees, Water and People, Ft. Collins, CO, (5)National Ecological Observatory Network, Boulder, CO, (6)Pikuni (Blackfeet) Nation

    As a holistic science, phenology provides a framework to not only explore connections between climate and phenomena but also presents an opportunity to explore the connections among worldviews. Here we share a vision, developed in the Indigenous Phenology Network, told through the voices of early career and established scholars, of the relationships between the human and nonhuman communities and interweaving of Indigenous and western ways of knowing. This vision centers our responsibilities, and highlights opportunities to collaborate equitably while honoring diversity. Indigenous resilience includes language restoration, food sovereignty, and intergenerational knowledge transfer happening in concert, which embodies holistic perspectives unique to localized communities. In this symposium, we explore each of these topics through the lens of plants or animals tied to our communities. Through appropriate engagement, ecologists can find common interests and do science that supports Indigenous resilience. With its emphasis on close observation, pattern recognition and seasonal cycles, phenology as a field of study is a rich ground for western-trained ecologists to begin to engage with Indigenous communities and knowledges. This session offers the audience a scope of initiatives and approaches in this work for a collective impact for all.

    Q&A: Thursday, August 6, 12:30:00 PM - 1:00:00 PM EDT

    INS 17: Big Data Reveal Seasonal Changes: Innovation in the Integration and Analysis of Large Phenological Datasets

    Katharine L. Gerst1Katie Jones2, (1)National Coordinating Office, USA National Phenology Network, Tucson, AZ, (2)Pikuni (Blackfeet) Nation

    Shifts in phenology in response to changing climate lead to well-documented ecological consequences for plant, animal and human communities. Until recently, studies have relied on data constrained to limited sites, species, timeframes, or sampling methods.  This session will highlight new and innovative efforts to integrate data across scales and platforms and to analyze large complex datasets (e.g. USA National Phenology Network, NEON, Phenocam, and MODIS). This discussion of the ‘revolution’ in open phenological data will be informed by work that examines responsible data collection and data sovereignty. Presentations will include snapshots of projects that bring together observational datasets and remotely sensed data, digitize and score phenological information from herbaria, use the Plant Phenology Ontology to integrate data across the globe, and utilize big data tools and resources to address both local and large-scale questions. Presenters will share their vision for a future of phenological research that involves visualizing and integrating phenological information across large datasets to create short- and long-term forecasts and tools to inform decision-making and climate adaptation.

    Q&A: Thursday, August 6, 3:00 PM - 3:30 PM EDT 

    Find us at the following presentations:

    Poster: The next ten at the NPN: Building an equitable and inclusive network

    Alyssa H. Rosemartin1, Sara Schaffer1, Sehdia Mansaray2, Ellen G. Denny1, Theresa M. Crimmins1 and LoriAnne Barnett1, (1)National Coordinating Office, USA National Phenology Network, Tucson, AZ, (2)University of Arizona


    The USA-NPN has successfully engaged a wide range of resource management, education and academic audiences over the first ten years of our development. In recent years, however, we have realized that unless we work actively to represent and include all demographic groups in the United States, we will continue to deliver benefits primarily to audiences that are more white, more educated and more wealthy than the US as a whole. We have made a formal commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and equity in our actions, partnership development, as well as on our team. As a staff, we identified core values of inclusion, dedication, and innovation. Further, we explicitly incorporated these commitments throughout our goals in an update to our 5-year Strategic Plan.


    Our primary emphasis with this new commitment internally is to focus on staff growth and development, assess organizational practices, including office and hiring norms. Externally we are building relationships, meeting new audiences in their spaces, and attending meetings to listen and learn. We are also collaborating with like-minded organizations to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the fields in which we operate, including citizen science, ecology, and natural resources. We have been working for several years to learn how to work appropriately with indigenous communities, including hewing to a framework respect, relationship, reciprocity and data sovereignty. At this meeting, and in other fora we hope to support indigenous voices in sharing powerful approaches understanding phenology and adapting to climate change. We have found that the simple question “Who Benefits?” can be transformative. We know we have a long way to go, and hope to undertake this journey collaboratively with the ecological community.

    Presentation: Knowledge coproduction and decision science to reduce forest pest risk

    Alyssa H. Rosemartin1, Audrey Barker-Plotkin2, Carrie Jean Brown-Lima3, Theresa M. Crimmins1, Chris Donnelly4, Robert T. Fahey5, Joseph Elkington6, Karen Jenni7, Nicole Keleher8, James G. Mickley9, Toni Lyn Morelli10, Michael Parisio11, Valerie Pasquarella12, Nancy Putnam13, Brendan Quirion14, Joshua Rapp15, Nathan W. Siegert16, R. Talbot Trotter III17, Aaron S. Weed18 and Steve Wood13, (1)National Coordinating Office, USA National Phenology Network, Tucson, AZ, (2)Harvard Forest, (3)New York Invasive Species Research Institute, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, (4)Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, State of Connecticut, (5)Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, (6)University of Massachusetts, (7)US Geological Survey, (8)Forest Health Program, State of Massachusetts, (9)Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, (10)U.S. Geological Survey, Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, Amherst, MA, (11)Maine Forest Service, (12)Biological Sciences, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, (13)Conservation and Recreation, State of Massachusetts, (14)Cornell University, (15)Massachusetts Audubon, (16)State & Private Forestry, Forest Health Protection, USDA Forest Service, Durham, NH, (17)Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Hamden, CT, (18)Northeast Temperate Inventory and Monitoring Network, National Park Service, Woodstock, VT


    Invasive species management, whether to preserve natural landscapes for future generations or to conserve the productivity of ecosystem services, faces numerous challenges including limited actionable options, uncertain outcomes, complex pathways and interactions, and a changing climate. Land managers dealing with forest pest risk have multiple, sometimes competing objectives such as reducing economic losses, ensuring human health and cultural values, maintaining wildlife habitat, and maximizing water quality as well as carbon storage and sequestration. There is a critical need to make risks to multiple societal assets explicit in decision making, and to weigh the consequences of pest outbreak prevention and mitigation actions in the context of societal and environmental objectives.

    To address this need, we are applying and testing a knowledge coproduction approach. We created a working group of managers and researchers, as well as people experienced in interdisciplinary work at the interface of science and practice, representing state agencies, forestry and entomology extension, urban forestry and academia, as well as the US Geological Survey, the US Forest Service and the National Park Service. Through a facilitated two day workshop and series of video conference calls, we built a shared understanding of the management context and desired outcomes of our effort.


    We are using a set of indicators of successful coproduction of climate science to evaluate the effort. A survey following the two day workshop found very positive process outcomes, and enthusiasm for the perceived outcomes, tempered with a lack of clarity about the exact form those outcomes would take. In response, we have clarified project outputs and outcomes informed by group discussion and online voting. We agreed to develop multi-pest management guidance that contextualizes risks to societal assets and trade offs among mitigation choices in a Structured Decision Making framework. The completeness of the considerations in the Structured Decision Making framework prevents collaborators from limiting their view (e.g., only thinking about hazard or the provision of forecast information). In this presentation, we will share lessons learned about coproduction for forest pest risk, as well as the pest management guidance we are developing, which provides a structure for approaching forest pest risk, with illustrative examples of key pest-host pairs.

    Q&A: Thursday, August 6, 3:30 PM - 4:40 PM EDT (link)

    Presentation: Watching the grass grow: Volunteer-contributed observations of phenology advance science and decision-making

    Katharine L. Gerst, Theresa M. Crimmins, Erin E. Posthumus and Alyssa H. Rosemartin, National Coordinating Office, USA National Phenology Network, Tucson, AZ


    Phenological records collected by volunteers have allowed for the development of tools and resources that benefit conservation and natural resource management. Observing the seasonal activity of plants and animals has emerged as a key way for volunteers to contribute to scientific understanding of species’ responses to climate change and environmental variability. The field of phenology has made substantial advancements to identify the drivers and patterns of shifts in seasonal transitions over the past decade, much of this made possible by the contributions of citizen scientists. The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN; was established to serve science and society by promoting a broad understanding of plant and animal phenology and the relationships among phenological patterns, climate, and environmental change. Data collected by citizen and professional scientists through Nature’s Notebook -- a national-scale, multi-taxa phenology observation program -- serve USA-NPN strategic goals of advancing science and informing decisions. Since 2009 over 17,000 Nature’s Notebook participants have contributed over 20 million observation records of plants and animals across the United States to the National Phenology Database. These phenology data and resultant products are being used in a rapidly growing number of applications for science, conservation and resource management, including over 80 peer-reviewed publications to date.


    USA-NPN invites researchers, educators, and partners to participate in Nature’s Notebook, to explore these data and tools, and to collaborate with the network to address a wide range of science questions and management needs. Here we share how data collected by Nature’s Notebook observers has led to scientific advances and the development of tools meet the needs of stakeholders. We will describe two case studies that demonstrate the impact of this program across audiences and applications. First, we explain how Nature’s Notebook data is being used to understand the drivers and patterns of invasive species phenology, and how these data are being used to validate and improve predictive models to optimize control and treatment. Second, we show how data on leafing of deciduous trees across the country is allows for the evaluation of existing models of the onset of spring, and for the generation of new predictive models that can inform growing season dynamics. These examples reflect campaigns where scientists worked alongside USA-NPN staff on outreach and communication to motivate observations on high priority taxa. Observers in turn receive detailed information on what their data show and how it is being used via newsletters and webinars.

    See all phenology-related presentations

  • Your questions, answered, amid the coronavirus pandemic
    Monday, March 30, 2020

    We've been receiving a lot of questions about how to manage your phenology programs during these difficult times. Here are some suggestions:

    My staff/volunteers don't have access to our observation site anymore, what should we do?

    We have to accept that there will be some gaps in data during this time - that is ok! If you are determined to continue to collect data, and it is safe and you are allowed to do so, here are some options:

    If your Nature's Notebook site has been closed to the public, then your volunteers will not be able to make observations. Are staff still working on site? Consider having them take photos of your plants and send them to volunteers to enter the data from home, or hang onto the photos to enter at a later date.

    If sites are totally inaccessible, or if you are in a location with a shelter in place order, consider whether you or your volunteers have similar species at your home. You can register these new plants or animals at a new personal site. While these are not the same individual plants, they will still contribute valuable information on your species of interest for your area. It will also help you and your volunteers keep up the habit of making observations, not to mention give you a reason to spend time outside!

    What will happen to my group/data if we have to stop collecting data for the next several months?

    We will maintain your group and all of its associated data in our system. We never delete data collected by Local Phenology Programs unless there is a problem with your data that you have alerted us to.

    How can I keep engaging my volunteers remotely?

    Check out LoriAnne's tips for moving programs online in our new LPP Forum. It might be a great time to have your observers take our Observer Certification Course , Basic Botany and Intensity Quizzes , read through and take the quizzes in our Botany Primer , or make a Phenophase Photo Guide by taking photos of plants at their homes.

    Consider doing a social media campaign to have volunteers document signs of spring out their windows, or start a phenology-related book club.

    Also, check out VolunteerPro's Guide for Managing Uncertainty with Volunteers.

    Do you have any tips on how to juggle all this online communication?

    We use Editorial Calendars to keep track of what content we want to send to different audiences, and when. The Nonprofit Marketing Guide has some great resources on how to create one.

    Do you have any activities to do with my kiddos while we're stuck at home?

    Yes! We have lots of activities and lesson plans on our Education page . Filter by indoor, outdoor, grade level, and more. Also check out Theresa Crimmins' recent Op-Ed in the Arizona Daily Star about doing citizen science at home during the current public health crisis.

    Education Coordinator LoriAnne Barnett will offer a one hour crash course that will cover:

    • How to get a group set up in Nature's Notebook

    • How to engage participants remotely

    • Which activities and curriculum might be most relevant to your particular learning environment

    • How to move scheduled Nature's Notebook trainings online.

    Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 at 12 pm PDT / 3 pm EDT. We will post the recording on our YouTube channel .

    Meeting link »

    Password: 056653

  • 2020 Heat Accumulation vs Rodent Prognostication
    Tuesday, February 4, 2020

    Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring this year! Our maps of heat accumulation provide a more scientific look at how much heat has accumulated so far this year, and what's next. Heat accumulation is ahead of schedule in the Southeast, Northeast, and parts of the West, and more typical in Midwest states. Research published in Journal of Geophysical Research by Crimmins and Crimmins last year, as well as NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, predict advanced plant and animal activity in the coming months in the Southeast and Northeast, the less precipitation and warmer temperatures in the Southwest, normal conditions in the Northwest, and below average temperatures and above average precipitation in the Midwest.

    Groundhog day seasonal story 2020