Nature’s Notebook

Connecting People with Nature to Benefit Our Changing Planet

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Groups Using Nature's Notebook

Groups Using Nature's Notebook

See how different partner groups are using Nature's Notebook

Audubon California - Starr Ranch

Citizen science volunteers at Starr Ranch are using Nature's Notebook to make long-term, year-round observations of birds, butterflies and plants in two rare habitats on Starr Ranch to examine climate change effects. They are now working with Sea and Sage (Orange County) and Mount Diablo (Contra Costa County) Audubon Chapters to begin similar monitoring projects that focus on birds in California Important Bird Areas. Data will go to the USA National Phenology Network’s online database and also be summarized for each site using the Nature's Notebook Data Visualization tool.

Image credit: Sandy DiSimone

Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR Phenology Project

Volunteers started monitoring four different species of plants in a restoration site at Don Edwards NWR in early 2014. The restoration site is located on old landfill bordering some restored salt ponds in Alviso, CA. The refuge itself is located at the south end of the San Francisco Bay surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley. The extremely variable quality of the soil and the site’s proximity to wetland habitats makes it an especially interesting candidate for phenology monitoring. The monitored area was restored fairly recently and still receives a lot of upkeep. Invasive pests like poison hemlock and ice plant are regularly beaten back. 

The staff and volunteers are excited to get some baseline data for the restoration site. The data collected will be useful for observing the health of the site in the context of our restoration efforts and longer term climate changes. Refuge staff love seeing volunteers develop closer relationships with the refuge’s flora. They hope it enhances the way volunteers and other refuge visitors look at the natural resources hidden in their own backyards.

Image credit: Julie Kahrnoff

Denver Botanic Gardens Phenology Trail

In 2013 Denver Botanic Gardens opened a Phenology Walk at the Denver location, an urban botanic garden. This Walk is one of three that comprise the Phenology Trail. The remaining two Walks were established in 2014, at the farm location just outside of Denver and the alpine location 45 miles west of Denver. The alpine location is on Mount Evans and is managed in conjunction with the US Forest Service. This variety of locations allows them to capture more phenological variation. Through collaborations with other partners they hope to expand the Trail around the state in coming years.  

The goal of the Phenology Trail is to educate the public about phenology, give them a place to practice collecting data, and encourage them to collect and report data from their back yards, parks, and hikes. In 2014 they also began doing phenology demonstrations in the new Science Pyramid, to further expose the public to this valuable resource. The phenology data gathered via Nature's Notebook will be utilized in Science Pyramid programming.

Image credit: Mary Goshorn

Oregon Season Trackers

The Oregon Season Tracker Program is a citizen science project of Oregon State University Extension and HJ Andrews Experimental Forest Long Term Ecological Research Site.  Extension volunteers and students gather precipitation and plant phenology data at their home, woodland, farm, or school to share with Oregon science researchers.  The data collected by Season Tracker volunteers will help scientists expand the scale and inference of their research activities beyond the boundaries of the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest.  Together the partnership hopes to improve understanding of precipitation patterns and how plants (and other organisms) respond and adapt to regional variations in weather and climate conditions.  In addition, this partnership collaborates with Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI), PRISM Climate Group, and contributes to national citizen science programs USA-NPN's Natures Notebook and Community Collaborative Rain Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS).

Image credit: Jody Einerson

Oracle State Park

Volunteers and staff at the Oracle State Park in Oracle, Arizona have created a phenology walk for use in education and outreach projects. The observations made will be used to engage visitors and create a guide to seasonal phenological events at the park. Oracle State Park is a site along the Tucson Phenology Trail. Data obtained will be used to answer broader research questions across the Tucson basin, including the development of a phenology calendar used to harvest mesquite beans for human consumption. Such a project highlights the importance of phenology in not only ecological research but cultural and ethnobotanical research as well. Mesquite beans, among other fruits and seeds, have been harvested for centuries by humans in this region and were considered an important food source.

Image credit: LoriAnne Barnett

Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Data Center

Volunteers in South Dakota are working with researchers at the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Data Center to track the phenology of 14 plant species. The observations collected by volunteers are being compared with data collected via satellites orbiting the Earth by US Geological Survey scientists to answer pressing climate change questions.

Image credit: Jesslyn Brown

University of California-Santa Cruz Arboretum

The University of California-Santa Cruz Arboretum recently launched a phenology walk. Several replicates of seven species are tagged throughout the Arboretum’s Native Plant Garden. Visitors to the Arboretum are invited attend a monthly workshop on phenology and to make observations on the marked plants. The data collected are being used to better understand the phenology of plants in the central California coast region.

Tacoma Science and Math Institute

Nearly 500 high school students at the Tacoma Science and Math Institute are engaged in monitoring phenology on the 700 acre park surrounding this public high school. In their first year, students participate in studying the native pants of the Pacific Northwest as part of their Physical Education class. In their second year, student make phenology observations of those plants on 15 transects using Nature's Notebook. This program was created by Science Department head Ralph Harrison, who was awarded the EPA’s Presidential Award for Innovation in Environmental Education in 2013.  

Image credit: Ralph Harrison

University of Oklahoma: Remote Sensing and Phenology Class

A Remote Sensing and Phenology class at the University of Oklahoma, led by Kenneth Hobson and Kirsten de Beurs, is monitoring ground-level phenology of 130 geo-referenced trees representing 19 different species on the Nature's Notebook list. Trees are monitored twice a week during the semester. Students then link ground-based observations with MODIS data retrieved from the Oakridge National Lab Distributed Active Archive Center. 

Image credit: Kenneth Hobson

California State University, Chico: Natural Sciences Class

California State University (CSU), Chico students enrolled in a writing-intensive life science course are seeking to answer questions about the phenology of valley oak, elderberry, acorn woodpecker and California ground squirrel, and how the phenology of these species coincide. 100 Freshman students each have their own Nature's Notebook account, and work in groups of 3-4 students to make weekly observations of animals and 2-3 individual trees in Chico’s Bidwell Park, the largest municipal park in California. Student observations are checked weekly and credit is given for the entered observations. Assistant Professor Teresa Lloro-Bidart is also conducting a concurrent ethnographic research project with her students.

Image credit: Teresa Lloro-Bidart