"We will need volunteers to make observations for a number of years before we can fill in an accurate picture about the impact of climate change on our landscape," Henderson says.
Volunteers say they enjoy making the observations.
"Where there are curious people, it doesn't take long to bring together a group to go scrutinizing particular plants and trees, discovering the earliest stages of cones or bud formation, for instance, then following the later development," says Sue Prindle, who lives in a retirement community in Silver Spring, Maryland. "It has been rewarding and fun."
Overall, participants across the country have made more than 10,000 observations since 2007, establishing a baseline for the timing of key plant events.
"These findings are important as scientists analyze the impacts of global warming on our natural world," says Kayri Havens, a senior scientist with the Chicago Botanic Garden and co-manager of Project BudBurst.
How to participate
Each participant in Project BudBurst selects one or more plants to observe. The project website, www.budburst.org, encourages volunteers to focus on the 10 most wanted species, but it also welcomes observations of other plants.
Volunteers begin checking their plants at least a week prior to the average date of budburst--the point when the buds have opened and leaves are visible. After budburst, participants continue to observe the tree or flower for later events, such as seed dispersal and autumn leaf drop. Participants submit their records of these phenophases online. Anyone can view the results as maps of the phenophases across the United States.
The science of phenology, or tracking cyclic behavior in plants and animals, has a distinguished history. For centuries farmers, naturalists, geographers, and other scientists have kept careful records of the phenolog
|Contact: David Hosansky|
National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research