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USGS Public Lecture Series: Watching Nature's Clock: A Citizen-Scientist Effort to Track Seasonal Signs of Climate Change
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Sue Haseltine: Good evening everyone. We’re about ready to get started. Welcome to the U.S. Geological Survey and thank you for coming out on such a rainy night. We were taking bets yesterday about whether it’s going to rain for 40 days and 40 nights, and it shined bright today. I guess we’re all OK in any regard. I'm Sue Haseltine, Associate Director for Biology at USGS and we’re very pleased to have you here tonight to look at one of the lectures that we’re presenting and what we’re calling ‘Our Science in Action Series’. And really this is the series of lectures and question and answer sessions for the general public to showcase some of our science that we believe is making a difference in the people’s lives and in issues we face in society, as a society and as a planet.


So we welcome you here and we hope that we can entice you in and perhaps you can get to participate in some of our work. Our speaker tonight is Dr. Jake Weltzin. Dr. Weltzin has been with us at the U.S. Geological Survey only since August of 2007. And he needs our efforts in developing a United States or USA National Phenology Network. But Jake’s interest in the natural world and in our planet had been developing over a long time. He grew up in Alaska next to many natural places and continued his studies at several universities and finally getting a PhD at the University of Arizona.


He’s worked all over the world as an ecologist. He’s been an exchange scientist in Australia and he’s worked in both temperate and tropical grasslands and woodlands and even in sub-boreal environments. His experience and the expertise goes to many of the systems that we’re looking at the U.S. Geological Survey. He also has been on the graduate faculty at the University of Tennessee and served as a Science Administrator for the National Science Foundation. Jake tells us that his interest in these kinds of broad scale-observation networks developed as he worked for the National Science Foundation, and also his interest in Citizen Science, and he’s going to talk to you about this network being partly an effort of citizens all over the country. So we’re very glad that Jake could join us at the Survey to help us develop this network with many other scientists across the continent. I’m going to leave it to Jake to tell you what Phenology is because he’s our expert, but I would tell you that if you looked at the latest reports that came out of the IPCC Group that told us where we were in the climate change story, across the globe, the United States is the only developed country in the world that does not yet have an National Phenology Network feeding information into what’s happening with our climate. So we’re very fortunate to have Jake at USGS and we have been very impressed with his expertise and his interest and his enthusiasm to develop this kind of network that can help us not only in the climate change but many other changes that are going on on this planet that we all love so much and depend so much for our life support.


So with that, I would just introduce Jake and please give him lots of tough questions because he can answer them all.


Jake Weltzin: Thank you very much I really appreciated that and I’m very pleased to be here and in fact when I was a scientist at the University of Tennessee, I had to study a host of different types of climate change impacts on natural ecological systems, looking at the effects of carbon dioxide concentrations on grasses and trees and how they interact. Some global warming studies where we actually heated up lots of air and measured salt temperatures and responses again and vegetation and water relations, and even animal populations inside, they’ve open hot chambers.  And I built huge rain out shelters, big precipitation shelters that keep rain off my experimental plots out in Arizona. And actually I find myself back in Arizona now, it’s a visitor badge, and according to the USGS I can actually look down and see the areas of experimentation where I have my large ranch that measured 30 meters long where I actually manipulated how much rainfall would land on the plots down there and track how mesquite season is established in condensed grass matrix because I can manipulate rainfall. If you’ve been tracking some of the reports in the news, you have heard a lot about changes in temperature and changes in rainfall regimes and the southwest landscapes especially on places that are getting hit particularly hard, and it’s going to get hotter and it’s going to get dryer.


And let me tell you, it might seem a little muggy outside today but it was over 100 degrees in Tucson today, I hear, so I’m very pleased to be here. So for a long time I’ve been tracking the impacts of climate change on national ecologic systems and sometimes we wish we had a little bit more global warming, so we can turn on the air conditioner here, or Milwaukee often wishes for global warming to occur along in about mid-March or so-- we need things to warm up. And of course warming conditions will impact some areas in ways that we don’t even know. Some areas will enjoy a little bit warmer conditions; some areas will enjoy hotter and drier conditions. So I’d like to do today is tell you a little bit about some of the ways that we are trying here at the USGS and across the nation to understand how changes in climate--global warming, climate change, elevated carbon dioxide concentrations, are impacting our natural ecological system that we depend on for our life support systems.


We got water from our systems. We get biological diversity. We got honey, which we’ll talk about in a few minutes. We have bees and other insects that do pollination services. How are they likely to change with changes in, say, global warming? How in terms of the timing, which is what I’ll be talking about in a few minutes, Phenology which is the study of the timing of life cycle events? How does that change?

So it’s not Phrenology and sometimes I get a chance to talk to reporters and I say, “We got a terrible need for your National Phrenology Network and I say, “Sorry, it’s a Greek root which means ‘to see or to appear or to show, when things show’.” So Phenology means the study of when things appear and I took a walk out here before the presentation and I see the redbuds are almost out. And there’s a few flowers up there but there are some wonderful dogwoods in flower, the azaleas are in bloom. I’m not sure with the [unclear] will come out soon,  [unclear] that’s part of the National Phenology Network right outside of the building here that we use to track impacts of warmer winters and warmer springs on the tiny little vegetation activity.


And we use those data in a lot of different ways to help us as we go along but the lilac --- in the United States is about 1,000 tracts as part of their National Oceans Club Service that’s supposed to be tracking the weather and we also tracking lilacs. We use that information to project and I won’t get the chance to get into all kinds of details but I’ll be talking about some of the applications for Phenology and how we can use and understand of the timing of plants and animal activity to make forecast and decisions support. I like theses kinds of talks because I have yet to focus a lot on science and a little bit on the [unclear] they also need a chance to give you a chat here on how you might be able to get involved with this National Phenology Network.


One thing I won’t talk about too much today is climate change in proper rather I’m focusing where the impacts of climate change we’ve observed already are or that could happen, and how you might disrupt natural ecologic systems. So I put up here just a little outline for what I’m actually going to go over here in my talk today. First a few definitions, we also have to start with definitions when you use the term Phenology and just describe what it is and how it might be important. I’d like to talk a little about how has Phenology changed so in that IPCC.

Audience Member: Could you please use the mic.

Jake Weltzin: You’re having trouble hearing. Okay, are there other folks who are also having trouble hearing me? I’m going to move the microphone out a little bit closer.

Audience Memebr: Okay, that’s better.

Jake Weltzin: How’s that?

Audience Member: That’s better.

Jake Weltzin: That a little bit better? Okay, I’ll try to make sure everyone can hear me. What I’d like to do, again, is talk a little about how Phenology has changed and in fact that IPCC Report-- by those 2000 scientists from around the world who wrote that report, on how climate change was likely to change. In the first chapter, they talk about Phenology and they look at all of the different phenological records from around the world, not many from the United States but from around the world, that show indeed that there have been changes in timing of warming conditions.


I’d like to talk a little bit about the science and natural relations. So What? What does it matter if the plants are coming out earlier? Maybe there are chemicals have been on flowers earlier and we can deal with that. Well there’s are a lot of different kinds of things that you think about when thinking about the timing of the plant and animal activity. What’s this National Phenology Network that Sue mentioned? So we do now have a National Phenology Network going since August of 2007 so we can join the ranks of the developed countries and follow on where they’re tracking and teach phenology education. And then talk a little about ways that you can get involved. Any science teachers here? Alright!


Good. Anybody else been here as well? Well, phenology, the term, is again from the Greek base or root ‘to appear or to show.’ And I have this nice technical definition down here: the study of the cause and the consequence of the timing memory on recurring biological phases. What does that mean?

Well, we see phenology all the time. We go to the azaleas out on the driveway here this afternoon, this evening? You’re tracking the flowering of an organism that is sensitive [unclear] to environmental conditions. A warmer spring--I guess you have [unclear] or forsythias and pears or the cherries that blossom out on the Tidal Basin. You think there’s a lot of money that flows into this area when people come to see the cherries? And you think that it’s important to know when those cherries are going to bloom so you can have people making their airline arrangements?


So how [unclear] interested in the timing of these plants, like when the leaves change color and everybody goes out to west Massachusetts to look at the leaves  But what are the causes, what causes those leaves to change color? How does that relate to climate change? Or more importantly what are the consequences? What does it mean if leaves change color and fall earlier—what does it mean for wildlife habitat , what does it mean for carbon sequestration; all the things that we’re interested in. There’s this wonderful quote in the intergovernmental panel on climate change, that chapter that Sue mentioned intergovernmental panel, the report that came out in 2007. A beaufitul quote, I was finally able to extract,  “Phenology… is perhaps the simplest process in which to track changes in the ecology of species, what thery’re doing out there, in response to climate change because again the timing of plant and animal activity is very much integrator of different environmental driving areas.


Warmer conditions means a healthier climate? Often, not always. Changes in rainfall,changes even in carbon dioxide concentration can change the timing of plant and animal activity. And all of these things as you know are changing. We’ll talk about those changes and how climate has changed or is likely to change again focusing on the biological responses.

So you think about the timing of large mammal migrations, plant-animal interactions. Half of all the bees in the United States that are used for pollination services go to the almond orchards in Central Valley they are put on flat bed trucks and hauled across the country from Florida. They’ve got to have some flowers when they arrive, and you’ve got to know when to get them there. They’re on a flatbed truck all the way across the country. You got other kinds of charismatic interactions going on here and even the caribou up there on the west coast of Greenland; that the caribou migration is driven more by day length and the vegetation is driven more by temperature and so we’re experiencing higher rates of calf mortality, low rates of herbing because the herbivores arrives at the same time the vegetation has already peaked.


And all of those nice tender shoots are done for the season and will have an impact on the charismatic species. Well, how does phenology change? What [unclear] is there? There are actually quite a few data sets from around the world; only a few here in the United States that are sort of technical sets collected by scientists.  In fact there’s actually a lot of legacy data sets. And we’ll talk more about those as we go along. Thomas Jefferson collected phenology data, Aldo Leopold collected phenology data, Thoreau--I’ll give an example about that. The [unclear]of phenology.


What have we seen? Camille Parmesan, who works at the University of Texas at Austin, actually tried to investigate what are the impacts of climate change on our natural systems and she and Mary Yohe did what we call meta-analysis. They went to look at all the published peer-reviewed literature that had information about changes in phenology and complex natural systems and they pulled out all the examples they could find about species that were interacting, where there were some data. Either showing where there has been an investigation in phenology, they looked at a total of 677 species and the time periods for all of those different data sets that they looked at ranged from 16 years to as old as 122 years, these data sets that people have recorded with the median time frame of about 45 years. And they said, “How many of those have actually showed a change in time, especially changes in spring timing, that might be coupled to changes in environmental conditions?”  In fact they found about nearly two-thirds of those organisms they looked at had showed the change, advances in their spring time.


So if you go out and see daffodils, and it seems like they’re coming out earlier this year, well chances are they probably are, but it depends on whether it's a cold year [unclear] lots of variation. But through time you can track the impacts of climate change if you have been a fastidious recorder, like the Brits. You can track when they mow the lawn.  For the first time just a couple years ago the British were having to go out and mow the lawn on Boxing Day. The day after Christmas. Warmer winters, earlier grass growth. Gotta go out, finish opening all the Christmas presents and  [unclear].


And so there are all kinds of different insects that have indicated that there are changes. Here’s another example, I’ll give you a few examples of  how things have changed. Art Shapiro, [unlcearl] a professor who’s been out there [unclearhe has butterfly world.



He loves tracking all different kinds of butterflies and for 34 years he’s been tracking population trends out there in California; all across California in huge numbers of trips, identifying species and tracking them. 5,000 site visits, 18,000 records of observations, from 159 butterfly species in California. And from that data he’s able to go back and say, “Has there been a change in the timing of what I see for the larval activity of these butterflies?  Like the Red Admiral or the Field Skipper? And sure enough, just right there in the Central Valley 23 of the species that are present there are actually being appearing, he’s finding them 24 days earlier.  So then a large shift in phenology for this suite of butterflies. There are a couple of examples, the red admiral coming out on average over that that time about a day earlier every year on average.


Variations of their next, later or earlier than one year or more than one or earlier emergence and flight, and the same thing for the Skipper.  I want to give you another example of an interesting situation that I found right here actually in this very area.  Wayne Esaias works out of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,  and Wayne’s a beekeeper. He also works with NASA.  He works with remote imagery and he knew that from the remote imagery that, and some studies have been done by NOAA and NASA, that vegetation has been greening up earlier. The canopy has been greening up earlier and it can be seen by remote sensing using satellite imagery.Quite a bit earlier  in fact about nearly three weeks earlier across the Eastern Seaboard in  some places in some species and Wayne said, “I wonder if that’s impacting what’s happening in terms of the bees and in honey production and in the type of honey being produced.”


And so he knew about these systems in scale hives, which is just the hive sat on a scale, an old fashioned scale. Some of these data sets go back to 1912 and people have been tracking how much honey is added to the hive and if you go from a distance, we go up and check the mass and you just check the mass the scale. So these scale hives actually indicate changes in mass through time and there’s a number of different scale hives across the country – this is the Maryland area, both above and below the fall line so you have an estimate of some of the variation, and he found out he could track the time the honey collects.  Here’s an example, this is from Dunkirk, Maryland in 2002 and what this graph is showing is from March 1st until late November, what to focus on is this black line—it’s just an accumulative line, the daily gain (sort of a seven day running average) of pounds of honey. So the highest amount on the scale is sometimes gaining as much as 4 pounds of honey a day because of all the activity of bees and of flowers [unclear].  


And so when he looked at the mass of the scale hive, and found that on some days lots of honey was being produced and that was a day when it was raining, and the peak went back up and then not much happened here during summer time but when all the new fall flowers came out, more honey was being produced. And he looked for changes in the timing of this peak, using all of those data, and he found that over the course of about a 40 year period here in central Maryland, between 1964 and 2005 that the peak of honey production had actually shifted earlier in the year about 25 days, coincident with changes in the vegetation. But what you see as well is that the type of honey and the timing of honey, had changed because of change of the flowering phenology. The two primary sources of nectar in these areas are the tulip poplar and the black locust.


And the black locust had actually shifted to an earlier time than the tulip poplar and so all of a sudden we’re getting more black lotust  honey you know that dark, rich honey you get from the market. So a change in conditions on the Eastern Seaboard’s affecting what kind of honey and how much it costs to the merchants. There’s a number of other examples. But why are those science and management implications? What does this all mean? How are changes in phenology important in other ways to natural systems? Well, this seems to be the sort of thing that you  might have a shift and a driving variable but it doesn’t affect all species the same way, or it doesn’t respond individualistic independently to the forcing factor. And we find that phenology responses are different in organisms and in fact even species.


So this is more data from Camille Parmesan's study where actually she turned the same data set she had worked with before which is 677 species she and, “OK, what have we seen in terms of the different types of organisms in terms of the change in their spring timing? And this is in days per decade if you’re down here and the intensity that over the course of 10 years you would have activity happen 10 days earlier. Ten days per decade.  And so all of this is earlier spring activity. She found an average about almost three days for all of those different kinds of organisms; things are coming out earlier climbing to 10. In fact, for example amphibians you would consider very sensitive in terms of their phenology, whereas birds and butterflies are about the same and herbs and grasses--not a whole lot of response.  They’re not as sensitive.  What this means is that you have different organisms that are interacting with one there’s a potential mismatch in terms of their timing with the passing downstream consequences. Let me give you an example of that. This is what I call a trophic interaction, where you have organisms that depend upon one another as food resources. And this is a case where English oak, and this is of course in England, will be coming out and what happens is there’s a winter moth, this is the larvae of the moth, that feed on these oak leaves.


And then the Pied Flycatcher, which is actually a migrant from North Africa, arrives and feeds on the moth. But because it’s in Britain, where they’ve seen changes even in the time when they have to mow.  And what we’ve seen is that English oak leaves now are coming out about two weeks earlier than they did in recent times. What’s interesting though is that that winter moth is able to track that change, no problem at all. It’s coming out two weeks earlier as well and feeding on those nice, young, succulent leaves and then they’re gone.


But what is happening is the Flycatcher is arriving as a migrant, at the same time each year. Now, it’s cues are disconnected from the local conditions and so when it lands in Southern England, this system here is changed in response to this environmental cue, the warming condition, and we’ve seen up to 90%,  95% of population because it doesn’t have enough food resources. So we end up with a three way interaction here that is becoming decoupled, it’s mismatched.


You can also end up with another situation where you end up with resource [unclear] So if you have these differential responses of species creating resource loss--here’s just a way to kind of show how complex this is, how ecologists think. All the species in the system--you have, let’s say you have pollinator or some consumer, some organism that eats these flowers or whatever these flowers and other kinds of organism just to show you a plot with different species. So I have arranged different species here and this is the day of the year reflecting their timing.


You might have a system, a very simple system with just four species and a pollinator, and it’s active during this time period and these flowers are here and then they’re gone like the pollen carries to the air outside. And you have these flowers, maybe like the dogwoods, they’re finished and what happens when you have a differential response in a situation like this where you have a differential sensitivity in early summer some might flower earlier; other organisms might actually flower later in the year. And because of this differential response you might end up with time periods where there aren’t any more resources even though the pollinator or whatever organism eats those flowers has shifted over. So you end up with possibilities where there aren’t resources available and you end up losing this organism from the system--that’s actually happened with a butterfly in California (I’ll talk about that later on).


And there’s actually a very couple of interesting tools here in [unclear] and this schematic I had earlier plants, in this case plants that are showing the greatest response towards some of the organisms that flower late in the year are showing either no response to different kind of later response. There’s actually a couple of papers that came out that indicate this indeed the case. So if you can say you’re trying to figure out the sensitivity of the organisms in phenological change, you can just say is this an early flower or a late flower and just quickly go out and do an assessment on a piece of natural land.  Which has... [unclear].  Well I mentioned Henry David  Thoreau . He was a philosopher who spent time on Walden Pond [unclear]


[unclear] He’s out there actually for about eight years and he’s a fastidious notetaker. And you can go back and you could find his diaries. [unclear] As it turns out he was so fastidious, he was tracking 600 plant species, not plants but plant species. [unclear] first flowering  over the course of eight years in the 1850's and you get back and get that information and extract that from his diaries. You got to kind of decipher his handwriting. Once you do that you have a fantastic historical data set compared to the contemporary kind. And so Abe Miller-Rushing and his adviser Richard Premac.  And there’s old Hank out there at Concord Pond . They went out and said, “Can we find those species out there still and they tracked 40 plant species that are still there.” First, it was just a graduate dissertation for Burt, for four years or however long a graduate dissertation takes. Just recently 2004 to 2007 he said, “Do we see, what are the dates in which we can see [unclear] of being.” They found that on average, the average flowering date for species out there is coming now 7 days earlier.


But some of the more common species are actually showing relatively large changes sometimes even up to three weeks, some showing no response at all. It’s actually a bird data set that shows bird unclear] response to climate change in that whole area. But they’re able to link these changes to records kept from climatological  records and find the rising measure of spring temperatures most likely to drive the birds [unclear] earlier. But they found something else very interesting in a follow up paper.

They found there’s a very strong relationship between the phenology and the populations and the size of the populations that are out there and the change in populations out there and the change [unclear] in population size has lots more recent records. What I'm sensing is they found this link between phenology and climate and population. It’s a little complicated so I’ll walk you through it.  So, this is a situation where you have not much change in phenology or maybe a lot has changed in phenology, I mean no change of the days up to the several weeks or so.


And we find this as inverse relationship so it’s a little complicated so I’ll kind of walk you through  here. So we have virtually found that it shows not much change in phenology or a large change that come up either earlier as she was the one who had relatively low population difference and results was population was stable.

What they infer is that if organisms are coming out earlier because conditions are warmer. they’re tracking those warmer conditions. They’re adapting those organisms are adapting to that [unclear] condition. But in contrast they found that organisms that showed relatively little change in phenology, where those have shown the greatest population declines.


See it’s counterintuitive because you think about the impact of warming conditions on phenology and [unclear] around it, “Oh, three weeks earlier this is not a good thing.” But when you just look at just the population by itself and link it, its those organisms that

be considered [unclear] They’re not changing in response to the change but the climate the environment change [unclear] like the caribou I mentioned earlier. It’s whole condition system that’s changing, but it’s not. So this is a very, very interesting tool because you can go out and track species in phenology and you can link that to population decline.  So the response from various populations is there. And as it turns out you can actually extend this figure there’s more recent [unclear] suggest that the species have increased in this area which are invasives are the ones who show the greatest plasticity, the greatest responsivity to change and so all of the sudden another tool to help understand why things change through time.


So what’s changing? What’s the declining? Unfortunately, it’s all a really cool stuff out there that you want to see asters, buttercups, orchids. There are still a few buttercups, there used to be 26 now there’s only two.  I mean related species tend to disappear as well so phenology, is having an impact, a link back to populations. Well, I would like to spend a few minutes now talking about how we can start to taking advantage of all of this science that we’re talking about. We talk about the National Phenology Network and how we’re trying to build and to capture some of this information and then we’ll be able to use it and apply it.

What is the National Phenology Network? Again we opened our doors in August of 2007 following examples from some of the other networks around the world and UK and major [unclear] , Germany’s phenology network, Plant Watch in Canada,  etcetera? It’s a new data resource a national network of what we call integrated phenology observations where you integrating things like plants and animals and [unclear] on both species.


What are our goals? To understand how plants and animals and landscapes like the [unclear] respond to environmental variation from one year to the next, or over time climate change. We also are hoping to develop decision support tools so are there any allergy sufferers in here? Phenology is when you’re experiencing all the pollen in the last few weeks. That’s phenology, that’s why the plants have the pollen for reproductive thing. And of course that affects us pretty much directly. So imagine we have tool that we can use that could project the time of pollen production. In fact, as soon as those little pollen, [unclear]  come out in the [unclear]. People can record that information, put it into a simple algorithm and get them back to USA Today or Washington Post. So that’s our hope is to help us determine how can we make decisions and how it can help us in that climate change.


So we’re just in a nutshell unless these never call without. It’s a national scale of science and monitoring initiative. So if it’s science we’re monitoring observations. We partner is how we work agencies, federal chain, local agencies that thrives NGO’s like the Wildlife Society, motorists society, the waterworks society. There’s a nice little description how you can get involve in the NPN. Academia, we’ve got lots of scientists who are involved in different universities and the public. We need them in order to get the data. I’ll talk about that in second. We want to integrate with other science and monitoring areas to talk about four things about climate change birds, bees, water and trees where the Christmas bird count indicates that there have been shifts in species distribution of birds. You can find further north on May 14th.


And we’re going to work with life line to help link our data sets with their data sets. We’d like to have a dense network, a 100,000 observation locations across NSAC and all the scientists and all the agency people. We don’t have the density of it but you know phenology like IPCC sets it can be used to track climate change. That’s what we want to involve and include as part of this network image. Exactly plants and animals, we can get contemporary data and if you heard of Science Friday a couple of weeks ago I heard them asking how to track them, just go to our web page. It’s and the people who were back in the office listening and working on a web page and doing the final level tweaks that we’re applying this on Monday and check it out with the press release and then we don't want to crash the system.


But if you want to get contemporary data and plug it in. Also legacy data sets, we have if you want an online system you can go in do maps and download it. You can go get your data, you can edit it out. A great opportunity for education to some of the science featured story here, a great start because you can go online, look at all online protocols and kids are trying things in the school yard. And wont talk too much about that, John Jones did a great job at last time. They last talked is also tracking some phenology so we can start scale from what is going on from the bottom all the way up to the landscape.


A lot of information on slide but I just want to show many kinds of applications phenology might be committed to. So talk about a little about science and talk about species that we so some changes. How phenology might be into species distribution or species interaction that you may think of birds and or bees and flowers. And predict the sources I mentioned a lot earlier and how to allow the phenology that goes back to 50 years the link that I quote the number of large virus ion the United States just some correlation fantastic correlation.

Biological nations we’re trying to contain dust or pollen, human allergens, mosquitoes. Mosquitoes arrived about 10 days ago staying outside got my first mosquito. The phenology event and no mosquito carrying diseases was no virus etcetera. Farmers do phenology all the time changing cultivars. They’re adapting to changes in environmental conditions. How far can that go? I won't go through the rest other than this. Folks who are bird watchers that go looking for these so all of these are phenology application with that build with work tools.


Again we partner. How doe we partner? Well, we got a lot of science guidelines back up there. So the natural coordinating office of the NPN actually comes on play. The recording office sits in Tucson and we see basic support from USGS. We receive support from Wildlife Society the official monetized service. We actually have partner with Microsoft for variation in information management and how people relate to science. We’re working on doing that database to install this information.

We have plant phenology program and animal phenology purpose in that link and and we have a chance to talk about that today but thinking it off as the rougher picture. So we include science opportunities of education and we'll talk about that in just a moment. We have specialized specialize members like Mark Walsh in Journey North Front Watch and breeding birds and everything.


Christmas Bird County, we don’t want to duplicate efforts. We work together to try to get to work phenology data in those. Is anybody here involved in The Great Sunflower Project? That’s a great program 20,000 people across the United States will receive a pack of sunflowers in their yard and track the emergence of sunflowers and needs of these and those. Check it out The Great Sunflower Project. The policy and management in these agencies and then our state force always making sure who are state force are, all of us here. So how can you get involve? Programs and how you might be able to get involve and here’s a lot of equity we discuss here just to give you a quick recap. …


Again, this is a science where the important part or why we need you? We need your help in getting 1,000 observation locations across the US. It’s just an arbitrary number, we didn't actually spend some time going where should these people be included etcetera. How can we make people involve? Because the public and every else we hope to form a called a national distributed data collection network hoping to collect information.

We want to make sure that we’re clear of how we use the information in this applications and decisions. But there’s a chance to help collect and do something. Collect both change data and track climate change. People I think that like the sort of moving to actually helping scientist get information they can use to understand what climate change has been acting in the systems. Also possibly for education awareness if you’re a teacher. Increasing science literacy we need that badly here in the United States. And when we come in and involve we find and come out and say, “I got a legacy. I’m tracking production of wheat or when I see stock cabbage emerge from here.

USGS Multimedia Gallery: (Transcript)--USGS Public Lecture Series: Watching Nature's Clock: A Citizen-Scientist Effort to Track Seasonal Signs of Climate Change


Or somebody might be tracking people have their own legacy phenology inside. And we’re looking to bring those for a baseline so ask the question why isn’t phenology work out? And you know for the years it can only be done 20 years ago. What are the different programs that we are focusing on plant phenology because we’re building off the existing program developing this. Schwartz has the legacy data set and said, “Lotus are everywhere so have much species built on that. We have several programs you can get one is called “Project Budburst or NPN we have. But we also have the Cloned Plant project, the lilac phenology in fact that’s the idea of the project of National Center and there’s also some space flight center and here because part of the national network anything plants is a compiling papers of climate change that data follow up.


So Budburst, those teachers out there are getting started. It’s a fantastic opportunity to use our a field campaign for the great reduction in Phenology market if you never read one this before. We hope to get the public engaged in collecting both change. There are fantastic education materials online and they’re getting better. So by passing a million of these in a modified plan and then in the conservation by any species so any plant species out there you can identify. The idea behind this project is to get people involved. So at any line and craft and psychological you can get a kid to go out and look at it.


We know it’s coming from Project Budburst if you look at our area officer, quality assurance quality control, but many people have it aside. We have a complimentary program for beginning to advance people who are getting involved. We actually have where you can track 21 different Phenological feeds from them and the hegemony of flowers, the male or female or leaf developed in the fall according to classification of wildlife habitat. Or if you are just a beginner, or the public managers, national parks, specialized service words to tag I think analyze the data. We have about 250 we call specified plant species, 20 calibration species in the nation and then regional species like sugarplum or saltwater.


Calibration species of the flowers in the national issues and we’re doing in hope to do an education to partner. So it's relatively straightforward, online you can see both choose your or other than natural ecological system are even better. But right now we have about a total of 2,500 citizens who are out there and scientists, citizens and scientists working together to track organisms all across the Unites States. Several of you have heard about 800 migrant observers but what about the other half all of wild animals? Well, working on an animal phenology partners already a number of programs out there mentioned. They’re tracking, tracking phenology like nest flock and are explicit the Christmas bird count the same time each year for sure when the climate change that she use information in fantastic way so we can go with partnerships.


We have another partner here for helping those programs. Right now we’re developing a list of species for the nation with the appropriate indicators, sensitive indicators and integrators of climate change and effects, or protocols once you choose the species like a modern bird flight. What should we be recording about that monitor or its resources? We’re working on identifying appropriate datasets so we can develop this protocol standards similar to those stored data sets like the North American Bird Phenology and there’s a flyer out there about this program. Six million index cards in many, many green file cabinets in two full rooms, index cards from a 90 year record of people who are tracking 2008 across the Unites States during 1890-1970 tracking first arrivals of migratory birds across the United States.


And we’re working on rescuing those data so we can use that as a baseline. Want to show you the same protocols we can go way back in time with our protocols.Our hope is to have it all online next spring. Resources we have to get that to roll this is watching the complicated but keep coming back. This is my last slide and the just the kind of thing you a little as to where you might see when you land that other location. Or when you get a chance to start a new network you actually get to design the logo and build a program from scratch. We have so much help basically scientists and others are volunteering and in Microsoft and Google involved and the kids so interested in tracking information.


Information that is the way of the future informatics basically and that’s what this is all about the citizens that are living with contemporary data sets. We can pull the historical days that we need to have. We need to pull in the chronological data so we can link all these things together and have a crossreferencing platform. These are things in the future that we’re shooting for. For our web page, you started to learn about the NPN and what’s phenology.

Join us and come in and observe and here’s the URL. I do encourage you to come and join us at the National Phenology Summer. Anybody who can get involved? There’s a few sliders out there seen them. This is a little postcards and talks about Project Budburst just a quick notes so people can figure out how diverse is. There’s flyer about the National Phenology to get more information on that as well and there’s copies of the wildlife professional nurse about a four-page article there and a lot of readership and then quite a few things on what we’re trying to do with it and building this kind of phenology program.


Well, thank you very much.


And I’m very happy to answer questions about the program.

Audience 1: I'm looking at the website. I think for an example last fall...

Jake Weltzin: Yes. The question was, do we think about things that happen outside of an annual cycle or maybe within an annual cycle where you have like multiple events or things that are occurring multiple times in a year. So I think about the United States, in California and here in Tucson we create some plans for an example most of times in a year as they’re pretty much more rainfall. In fact there’s plenty of sun and moisture in spring than we’re not to get a flush of flowers and there’s drive or everything is dried down and it’s starting to clock right now.


And then when the monsoon rains comes, the summer rains you have to flush. Back Easter of 2007 just a couple of years ago, almost all of the ponds in Georgia were ruined by that Easter freeze. In fact, it was enormous amounts of agricultural damage across in the southeastern US because of the enormous rains. All of the plants basically have been lost and were set back several weeks but then reflowed mainly etcetera. And so the system that we have developed for the NPN is to try to take advantage of that rather than recording when did you see the first leaf on your tulip poplar. Let me say, “You change the system a little bit so


Do you see this particular event or so and then you check. “Yeah, I did go out because it’s important to have access here.” I checked and I didn’t see a leaf.” So those’s actual data or let’s say, “Yes, I did see.”

So we have an estimate how often this one go out and regular. Every other day he go out and check regardless of the season that’s the one who’s regarded as a really good observer and/or I did see or either see. I see might be and so you have a very good set of update there. So yes we have to try to incorporate for anomalous conditions like that. In short, it was probably not what we call a nasty mirror last year and so that’s a natural cycle phenomena that actually may give to large scale express relation.


There’s now just that indicates that there’s sort of hole book or a compression across North America that’s maybe related to how we answer it from the article. Question here in front

Audience 2: Will you consider this stuff because of climate change. You say people these things would be hundreds of years of today expect climate change or they have the reasons for studying those things.

Jake Weltzin: OK, the question was, if people are tracking flowers or animals per 10’s or hundreds of years when it came by climate change at the time and end up as a great question that sort of insights of climate change at its core and that is actually the big issue right now. But of course, a lot of examples I provided don’t necessarily have to relate to climate and relate more to this environmental variation whole year or one year. If you think about things like timing it came up. I talked earlier he said that she and her siblings have spread out across the states and they have a little ways to see whose purposes come up first each year.


And have other folks who are soon as first things possible come sort of culture way like when you see the cherry blossoms. Sometimes the first fish, there are great records on the rivers along the east coast because that fish was presented to the head of state or tribe or a unit as part of a ceremonial way that’s actually records that may go back so there’s cultural. The Koreans and especially the Chinese have records for cherry blossom especially cherry blossom technology that I come back hundreds 300 day a year ancestral break production and in Germany showing the great, are now the turned 30 days earlier and so very, very strong tie forming fish, the temperature fish. And so you think about how you collect…


Title: USGS Public Lecture Series: Watching Nature's Clock: A Citizen-Scientist Effort to Track Seasonal Signs of Climate Change


A new USGS program, the USA National Phenology Network, is recruiting tens of thousands of volunteers to team up with scientists to help track the effects of climate on seasonal patterns of plant and animal behavior. Come learn how you can contribute to this new national effort, by getting outside, and observing and recording flowering, fruiting and other seasonal events. Scientists and resource managers will use your observations to help track effects of climate change on the Earth's life-support systems.

Some parts of the transcription were hard to hear. As a result, parts of the transcript may either be missing or inaccurate. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Location: Reston, VA, USA

Date Taken: 5/6/2009

Length: 0:00

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