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Walking with Wildflowers
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a spectacular place to observe and record plant phenology. This trail spans from Mexico to Canada, and traverses the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountain ranges at elevations up to 13,159ft. Importantly, the PCT spans the physiological limits of many species, allowing researchers to directly test how climate impacts species across their ranges. Our volunteers survey the flowering status of several species of plants in predetermined sites while hiking the PCT. Because of the number of hikers that pass these sites on a daily basis, a continual stream of phenology observations is generated that would be impossible for researchers to generate on their own. A pilot project version of Walking with Wildflowers is funded by the National Science Foundation.
This pilot project involves setting up sites along the PCT in Yosemite, Crater Lake and North Cascades National Park, as well as starting to recruit hikers and record initial phenology data. This work was funded as part of study determining how a widespread species (Mimulus guttatus) has adapted to use photoperiod cues to time flowering across its species range and potential implications for adaptation to future climates. Walking with Wildflowers is a collaboration between scientists at several research institution and the USA National Phenology Network.