The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Signs of the Seasons on Citizen Science Day 2019

Posted by | April 12, 2019 | Filed under: Program Reports

The Phenology Phenoms were out in force today. Caryn's team of 10 nature-attentive volunteers hit the trails for their first Signs of the Seasons observation session since the SOS training in March.


Signs of the Seasons is a citizen science program that trains volunteers to observe and record seasonal changes in plants and animals, a field of study called phenology. The program, developed by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Sea Grant, and partnering research scientists, enters its 10th year with hundreds of volunteers inspecting scores of sites in northern New England.

The Phenoms were hunting for the subset of indicator species that Caryn considers good candidates for monitoring at the reserve. These are common, easy-to-recognize plants and animals that could signal environmental change over time. The initial set includes:

  • Trees: Red Maple, White Pine, Red Oak
  • Shrubs: Winterberry, Highbush Blueberry, Lowbush Blueberry, Forsythia, Common Lilac, Beach Rose
  • Other Plants: Common Milkweed, Skunk Cabbage
  • Animals: Monarch, American Robin, Wood Frog, Spring Peeper

By making weekly visits and carefully following criteria, observers will map a timeline of development for these species. Compiled with observations from around the region and collected over many years, these data ought to reveal whether climate change is altering the lives of plants and animals.

The team uploads their findings into Nature's Notebook, an app from the USA National Phenology Network.

Contact Caryn to learn more.

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