USA NPN National Phenology Network

Taking the Pulse of Our Planet

You are here

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

Image credit:
Sara N. Schaffer


  • Differential changes in onset of spring in National Wildlife Refuges and migratory flyways
    Wednesday, September 12, 2018

    We know that the timing of spring is changing. What does that mean for migratory birds? A new study from USA-NPN and USGS researchers published in PLOS One leveraged the USA-NPN's Spring Index models to understand trends in the timing of spring. We found that in recent decades, spring is arriving early in three-quarters of national wildlife refuges and extremely early in half of refuges. These changes are not consistent across the latitudinal extent of migratory flyways, with spring advancing significantly faster in the north for most flyways. 


    Refuge staff, visitors, and others can explore these findings via a new tool on the USFWS Phenology Network website called Long-term changes in the Status of Spring.  Click on a Refuge to find out the average onset date of spring in recent decades, how the onset of spring in recent decades compares to a long-term average, and how the timing of spring at that refuge fits into the larger migratory flyway. 


    The research was highlighted in a USGS Featured Story: Will the early bird still get the worm? (Sep 12, 2018)

    This research has also been featured in the following popular articles and podcasts: 

    The Guardian: Trump administration poses new threat to birds in allowing 'incidental' killings (Sep 21, 2018)

    Inside Climate News: Spring is coming earlier to wildlife refuges, and bird migrations need to catch up (Sep 17, 2018) 

    Popular Science: Our seasons are out of whack, which is really bad for migrating birds (Sep 13, 2018) 

    EurekAlert!: Spring is advancing unevenly across North America (Sep 12, 2018)

    Discover Magazine: Spring is arriving earlier, messing with bird migrations (Sep 12, 2018)

    Scientific American podcast: Earlier springs may mean mistimed bird migrations (Sep 12, 2018)

    Monday, August 13, 2018

    Walking with Wildflowers, a Local Phenology Program of the USA-NPN is leveraging citizen scientists to collect data along the Pacific Crest Trail. This AAAS blog post by collaborator Nic Kooyers describes how the researchers behind this effort are working with local hikers to understand which high-elevation species may be vulnerable to shifting climatic conditions.

  • In loving memory of our dear friend and colleague Patty Guertin
    Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    Patty Guertin

    It is with heavy hearts that we tell you of a great loss to the USA National Phenology Network. In May 2018 we lost Patty Guertin, our staff botanist who had been with us since the start of the USA-NPN. Taken from the world by cancer far too soon, she is sorely missed by her family, friends, and the coworkers who consider her family. 

    Patty saw the beauty in every environment she visited and called home, from the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest to the ever-changing Sonoran Desert. In addition to an exceptional eye for detail, Patty possessed genuine wonderment at the natural world and a deep knowledge of its plants and animals. 

    Patty loved to paint and had an eye for capturing the vibrant red of a desert flower and the softly illuminated spines of a cactus at sunset. 

    Patty was caring, humble, generous, and a devoted member of the USA-NPN team. She kept meticulous, detailed records to categorize and describe each species added to the Nature's Notebook system, and created the content for the Botany PrimerPhenophase Primer, and Nature's Notebook Nuggets. She always made time to write a carefully detailed response to an observer question or a help a fellow staff member puzzle out a species identification. 

    We will remember Patty as she lived, in a beautiful, quiet spot of nature with a paintbrush in her hand and love in her heart for the people and places surrounding her. In the staff here and among you, our partners and observers, we will carry on her legacy in the careful and loving study of our local plants and places.

    The Staff of the USA-NPN National Coordinating Office

    Ferocactus emoryi By Patty Guertin

    Ferocactus emoryi (Emory barrel cactus) in my front yard, by Patty Guertin 

    Patty is survived by her mother (Claire Pratt, Groton CT), husband (Phil Guertin, Tucson AZ), daughters (Elizabeth Guertin, Columbia, MD and Allyson Solar, Portland OR), sister (Peggy Grass, Rumney, NH), brother (Bill Pratt, Groton, CT), uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, and many wonderful friends. 

    In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona ( would be appreciated.

    Patty Guertin Memorial flyer

    Here is a map of the area, if you are driving, please park in Summerhaven and walk to the property or park along East Carter Canyon Road.



    Tuesday, March 20, 2018

    In most of the last ten years, the First Leaf Index has arrived days to weeks earlier than calendar spring in the Washington, DC area. This year, spring leaf out arrived 25 days earlier than the Spring Equinox in Washington, DC.

    Comparison of Spring Equinox and USA-NPN's First Leaf Index for Washington DC

  • Pheno Forecast maps inform treatment timing for key pests
    Thursday, March 1, 2018

    Our new Pheno Forecast maps show when management actions should be taken for five pest species including emerald ash borer, apple maggot, lilac borer, hemlock woolly adelgid, and winter moth. These maps are updated daily and are available 6 days in the future. Sign up to receive notifications.