USA NPN National Phenology Network

Taking the Pulse of Our Planet

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The USA-NPN, phenology, and our partners are often in the news. Follow some recent stories below.

Image credit:
Sara N. Schaffer


  • When did observers report fall color this year?
    Tuesday, November 20, 2018

    Fall 2018 Seasonal story of leaf color reports


  • USA-NPN's 10-year Anniversary Event
    Monday, October 22, 2018

    USA-NPN 10 year anniversary logoIn 2018, we are commemorating 10 years of the USA National Phenology Network and data collection with Nature's Notebook

    On October 19th, we brought together USA-NPN partners and Nature's Notebook leaders and observers at the home of the USA-NPN's National Coordinating Office in Tucson. There we reflected on the last 10 years of the USA-NPN and envisioned the next 10 years. 

    Carol Anderson and Laurie Richards prepare to lead the tour at the Tucson Botanical GardensWe started the day with a special appreciation event for our Local Phenology Leaders - partners who lead volunteer groups in place-based Nature's Notebook programs. We enjoyed a lovely brunch together at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, where Leaders had the chance to speak about their programs and share ideas with other Leaders conducting similar efforts. We also were treated to a tour of the Tucson Botanical Gardens Phenology Walk, led by Carol Anderson and Laurie Richards, certified Local Phenology Leaders, certified Master Naturalists, and Docents at the Gardens.


    Local Phenology Leaders from across the country The Local Phenology Leaders attending the event included (front row from left to right) Laurie Richards (Tucson Botanical Garden), LoriAnne Barnett (USA-NPN NCO), Sue Wilder (Gulf Coast Phenology Trail), Ceanne Alvine (Watershed Management Group), Jessica Schuler (New York Botanical Garden), Bettina Eastman (Sea and Sage Audubon), Jean Linsner (The 606 Project Chicago), Sara Schaffer (USA-NPN NCO), Carol Anderson (Tucson Botanical Garden), Hilary Cox (Oracle State Park); (back row from left to right) Rebecca Montgomery (Minnesota Phenology Network), Liz Douglass-Gallagher (Rio Grande Phenology Trail), Christy Rollinson (The Morton Arboretum), Blue Baldwin (Manzo Elementary), Susan Mazer (California Phenology Project), Alyssa Rosemartin (USA-NPN NCO), Erin Posthumus (USA-NPN NCO) and Ellen Denny (not pictured, USA-NPN NCO). 

    Mark Schwartz and Julio Betancourt receive special recognition at USA-NPN anniversary eventAn afternoon Symposium held at the University of Arizona's ENR2 building brought together USA-NPN partners, researchers, and friends and colleagues from the University and beyond.

    Watch the recording

    The following presenter's slides were not captured in the recording: Shane Burgess, Susan Mazer

    Special 10-year anniversary commemorative posters were presented to the USA-NPN's co-founders Mark Schwartz and Julio Betancourt.

    Here are some highlighted quotes from our speakers:

    "As we expected all along, the NPN data represent the gold standard for monitoring." Susan Mazer, Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara

    "Refuge biologists are seeing a lot of the changes, but they're not necessarily able to document it. And through this work with the USA-NPN and our partnership with USA-NPN we're really able to start really documenting the changes that we're seeing." Sue Wilder, Retired Ecologist, Gulf Zone Inventory & Monitoring/Fire Ecology, US Fish & Wildlife Service

    "The work that we do could not be accomplished without us being able to work underneath the National Phenology Network and utilize Nature's Notebook. We rely very heavily on the resources that are developed through NPN and then we tailor them to our specific regions." Elisabeth Maxwell, Assistant Coordinator, UMaine Signs of the Seasons

    "The folks studying phenology, even on a citizen science level can really assist us by reaching out to us and working with us because we have a knowledge base that's different from Western thought." Teresa Romero, Environmental Specialist, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians

    "Because of the dedication, we've seen over the last 10 years that the USA National Phenology Network is going to be, it's going to continue to be important. And I would say and argue that even more so in the next 10 or 25 years. I think the foundation that's been established is amazing and we've yet to see the results of that." Jeff Morisette, Chief Scientist, National Invasive Species Council Secretariat

    "And the other thing that really is needed to make this possible is a professional staff and the people coming together who have made it their career. And so I'm deeply appreciative of that and I really want to thank you for that." Mark Schwartz, Distinguished Professor of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

    "It's beautiful to see what has happened in the last 10 years since we hired Jake and opened the offices in 2007 here at the University." Julio Betancourt, USGS, Scientist Emeritus

    A reception followed the Symposium event, giving our friends and partners a chance to form new collaborations and discuss ideas related to phenology and the next 10 years of the USA-NPN. The reception featured posters from Local Phenology Programs from across the country, as well as a photo slideshow showing our partners and observers in the field.

    See the photo slideshow of observers in the field

    USA-NPN 10 year anniversary hike Photo: Alyssa RosemartinWe followed up the anniversary event with some special field trips for our out of town visitors - a trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and a hike in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Visitors to the Desert Museum had a chance to learn about the unique flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert. Hikers walked in the steps of a local phenologist who has been recording flowering phenology data for over 30 years in the Santa Catalina mountains. 

     Thank yous from 10 year anniversary page 1

    Thank yous from 10 year anniversary page 2


  • Differential changes in onset of spring in National Wildlife Refuges and migratory flyways
    Wednesday, September 12, 2018

    We know that the timing of spring is changing. What does that mean for migratory birds? A new study from USA-NPN and USGS researchers published in PLOS One leveraged the USA-NPN's Spring Index models to understand trends in the timing of spring. We found that in recent decades, spring is arriving early in three-quarters of national wildlife refuges and extremely early in half of refuges. These changes are not consistent across the latitudinal extent of migratory flyways, with spring advancing significantly faster in the north for most flyways. 


    Refuge staff, visitors, and others can explore these findings via a new tool on the USFWS Phenology Network website called Long-term changes in the Status of Spring.  Click on a Refuge to find out the average onset date of spring in recent decades, how the onset of spring in recent decades compares to a long-term average, and how the timing of spring at that refuge fits into the larger migratory flyway. 


    The research was highlighted in a USGS Featured Story: Will the early bird still get the worm? (Sep 12, 2018)

    This research has also been featured in the following popular articles and podcasts: 

    The Guardian: Trump administration poses new threat to birds in allowing 'incidental' killings (Sep 21, 2018)

    Inside Climate News: Spring is coming earlier to wildlife refuges, and bird migrations need to catch up (Sep 17, 2018) 

    Popular Science: Our seasons are out of whack, which is really bad for migrating birds (Sep 13, 2018) 

    EurekAlert!: Spring is advancing unevenly across North America (Sep 12, 2018)

    Discover Magazine: Spring is arriving earlier, messing with bird migrations (Sep 12, 2018)

    Scientific American podcast: Earlier springs may mean mistimed bird migrations (Sep 12, 2018)

    Monday, August 13, 2018

    Walking with Wildflowers, a Local Phenology Program of the USA-NPN is leveraging citizen scientists to collect data along the Pacific Crest Trail. This AAAS blog post by collaborator Nic Kooyers describes how the researchers behind this effort are working with local hikers to understand which high-elevation species may be vulnerable to shifting climatic conditions.

  • In loving memory of our dear friend and colleague Patty Guertin
    Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    Patty Guertin

    It is with heavy hearts that we tell you of a great loss to the USA National Phenology Network. In May 2018 we lost Patty Guertin, our staff botanist who had been with us since the start of the USA-NPN. Taken from the world by cancer far too soon, she is sorely missed by her family, friends, and the coworkers who consider her family. 

    Patty saw the beauty in every environment she visited and called home, from the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest to the ever-changing Sonoran Desert. In addition to an exceptional eye for detail, Patty possessed genuine wonderment at the natural world and a deep knowledge of its plants and animals. 

    Patty loved to paint and had an eye for capturing the vibrant red of a desert flower and the softly illuminated spines of a cactus at sunset. 

    Patty was caring, humble, generous, and a devoted member of the USA-NPN team. She kept meticulous, detailed records to categorize and describe each species added to the Nature's Notebook system, and created the content for the Botany PrimerPhenophase Primer, and Nature's Notebook Nuggets. She always made time to write a carefully detailed response to an observer question or a help a fellow staff member puzzle out a species identification. 

    We will remember Patty as she lived, in a beautiful, quiet spot of nature with a paintbrush in her hand and love in her heart for the people and places surrounding her. In the staff here and among you, our partners and observers, we will carry on her legacy in the careful and loving study of our local plants and places.

    The Staff of the USA-NPN National Coordinating Office

    Ferocactus emoryi By Patty Guertin

    Ferocactus emoryi (Emory barrel cactus) in my front yard, by Patty Guertin 

    Patty is survived by her mother (Claire Pratt, Groton CT), husband (Phil Guertin, Tucson AZ), daughters (Elizabeth Guertin, Columbia, MD and Allyson Solar, Portland OR), sister (Peggy Grass, Rumney, NH), brother (Bill Pratt, Groton, CT), uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, and many wonderful friends. 

    In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona ( would be appreciated.

    Patty Guertin Memorial flyer

    Here is a map of the area, if you are driving, please park in Summerhaven and walk to the property or park along East Carter Canyon Road.