Citizen Scientists Needed

     If you enjoy plants or even just like being outside, scientists are looking for your help.  Scientific researchers are looking for citizen volunteers to make some simple observations of particular plants in their own back yards, on a regular basis. 

     The USA National Phenology Network (NPN) needs hundreds of people around the country to track signs of a changing climate.  Volunteers will monitor phenophases, the recurring plant and animal life cycle events that mark the changing of seasons, such events as budding, flowering, dropping of leaves, etc.  The list of plants for observation will later be expanded to include animals and such phenomena as bird migration and pond ice.   

     By signing up for one or more individual plants in your yard and entering observations on the particular plants at the NPN website at least once a week, you will be joining hundreds of volunteers in providing scientists with far more direct information about when these life cycle events are now taking place than scientists could obtain on their own.

     Scientists will use the citizen data to learn how we can adapt to the level of climate change that is inevitable, regardless of how effective we are in reducing global warming.  The information may enable us, for example, to more effectively target our efforts to preserve threatened species and to address human health issues caused by a changing distribution of allergens.

     Participation is simple.  Just visit the National Phenology Network’s site at www.usanpn.org.  There you will be guided through four easy steps to get you started.  It’s a worthy cause, and it could be a fun way to help. 

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