Nature’s Notebook

Connecting People with Nature to Benefit Our Changing Planet

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How your data are being used

The plant and animal phenology observations that Nature's Notebook participants have been contributing tell some interesting stories! We invite you to read about some of our most recent discoveries from Nature's Notebook data below. Check back often; we update this page frequently!

Temperature and daylight length strongly influence the range of ragweed, an invasive weed. Ragweed can only reproduce in areas where its seeds can mature before the winter frost. This means that as the climate warms, ragweed will be able to grow in more places.  
Volunteers have been tracking cloned plants for over 50 years, and these observations have been invaluable for documenting how plants are responding to a variable and changing climate. However, lilacs don't grow very well in the southernmost parts of the US. A dogwood was recently cloned for distribution in southeastern states to address part of this data gap, and Nature's Notebook participants began submitting observations in 2013.
Early results are coming in from the PopClock project, a collaborative effort with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies.
Spring of 2012 arrived remarkably early in much of the U.S... but what about 2013? What do those observations that you've been diligently collecting and reporting in your yard say about this year? How are scientists and decision-makers using these observations? View our 2013 results webinar video below to learn more or download the slides.
Spring leaf-out phenology observations have proven valuable in predicting how arctic plant communities may change in coming decades. Models used to predict changes in plant communities have traditionally taken phenology into account, but have used a single date for leaf-out averaged across all plant species. As participants in Nature’s Notebook know first-hand, the timing of leaf-out varies by species.
Phenology data can inform invasive species management by identifying periods of reproduction and green-up that are critical for mechanical removal or herbicide application. Buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare), an aggressive non-native species, is spreading rapidly and introducing fire to the sensitive Sonoran Desert.
The spring of 2012 broke many records across the eastern portion of the U.S. for early warm temperatures. Though we humans may celebrate the early return to warm temperatures following a cold, dark winter, plants and animals may not fare as well. 
Warming temperatures are prompting many trees in temperate regions to put on leaves in the spring earlier than they have in the past. Climate change models predict continued warming of up to several degrees C by 2100. A team of researchers at Princeton University, led by David Medvigy, developed a nuanced model to predict the timing of leaf-out in the future. 
Dedicated volunteers have been tracking the phenology of cloned and common lilacs for decades, and these observations have been invaluable in documenting plant responses to changing spring conditions. In 2012, we launched a campaign to garner more commitment among Nature's Notebook participants to tracking lilacs. 
Spring 2010 was anomalously early in much of the eastern United States, and resulted in lilacs and other species leafing and flowering weeks ahead of schedule. When 2012 began showing signs of another early spring, we launched a campaign across the northeastern quadrant of the United States to capture observations of plant phenology. 

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