I must admit, I have a bit of an obsession with plants and citizen science projects. Not just any plant projects, but those that focus on plant phenology, the science of when plants flower, leaf, and fruit.
One of the exciting things about plant phenology citizen science programs is that individuals from all walks of life really can help contribute to a better understanding of climate change. We all get that weather changes from day to day and week to week. It is a bit harder to wrap our brains around changing climates because this involves much longer periods of time – like decades.
Participating in plant phenology citizen science programs like Season Spotter or Project BudBurst can make the impacts of changing climates more understandable for many of us. Keeping long-term records of how individual plants change with the seasons (Project BudBurst) or helping to categorize and annotate long-term image collections of vegetated landscapes (Season Spotter) can give us a better understanding of how plants and plant communities respond to changes in their environments – including changes in climate.
Both are important. If you want to get outside and make/share your own observations, consider participating in Project BudBurst. If you want to help analyze existing images from a digital network of automated cameras, jump into Season Spotter. Or, if you are like me, you can do both. One gets me outside and up close with plants; the other is a great way to get my plant fix when going outdoors to observe plants is not an option. Either way, I know my actions are making a difference. Thank you for making a difference by participating and sharing the stories plants can tell.