Phenology is the study of the timing of natural events—such as return dates of migratory birds, first flower dates for plants and dates of first sightings of mammals after winter hibernation— and how such timing is related to climate. Phenology is a key component in plant and animal interactions. For example, when a young chick hatches, it needs caterpillars and other food to eat, and an emerging caterpillar needs to eat developing leaves. Understandably so, phenology has also been called, “nature’s calendar” and “the pulse of life.”
Phenology has been described as a key tool in monitoring the impacts of global climate change. As Earth warms, plants are flowering earlier, birds are migrating sooner, and the interactions , distributions and abundances of plant and animal species are changing. We can use phenological data to predict further impacts of these changes on natural systems and people.
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 people can see what is new in nature each week.