Phenology is the study of biological events in relation to seasonal changes. The timing of these events is directly linked to climate so monitoring these events over time can offer insight into organism response to climate change. For plants, events that can be monitored include first leaf, budburst, full flower, fruiting (seeds) and senescing of leaves. Variability in timing is common from year to year, but drastic and sudden shifts can have lasting impacts on many organisms including humans.
There is a nation-wide effort to monitor these changes in a growing list of plants. The Project Budburst website (http://neoninc.org/budburst/) offers a detailed description of how and what to monitor in the plant world and displays a nation-wide map with observations as they come in throughout the season. A majority of these observations come from citizen scientists that can choose to observe a single plant once or make multiple observations throughout the growing season.
On the Chugach, plant ecologists are leading several outings this summer to make observations. We will be monitoring the following species: Black Cottonwood, Common Dandelion, Big Leaf Lupine, White Sweet Clover, Common Yarrow, Bog Blueberry, and Lowbush Cranberry. Outings are free, open to the public and will offer information on plant identification and how to make and submit observations. We will post upcoming events on this blog and on the Chugach website. Please contact Kate Mohatt at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in events or just want more information.