Phenology is the study of the timing of natural events. For many years, people have noted the dates when migratory birds return, the first flower dates for plants, dates of ice-on and ice-off of lakes and dates of first sightings of mammals after winter hibernation. Understandably so, phenology has also been called “nature’s calendar” and “the pulse of life.” Such timing is critical for plant and animal interactions. For example, when a young chick hatches, itneeds caterpillars and other food to eat and an emerging caterpillar needs to eat developing leaves.
The timing of phenological events is also important for:
- Agriculture (planting and harvest times)
- Human health (allergens and infectious diseases)
- Natural resource management (timber and water)
- Recreation (fall colors and wildflower displays)
- Understanding hazards (monitoring and predicting drought and fire risks)
- Conservation (abundance and diversity of plants and animals)
The FCPC Natural Resources Department has started a project to keep track of phenological data on tribal lands and surrounding areas to both monitor climate change and engage the public in observing the natural world. We will be making our own phenological observations available online for people to view, including links to photos, videos and websites. In addition, we are inviting FCPC members to contribute observations of their own to the website as part of a citizen science effort. We will be updating the website with new observations on a weekly basis so that people can see what is new in nature each week.