Plant phenology workshop

Plant phenology workshop
by Andrew Bryant, 23 January 2015.

As somewhat of a non sequitur to his talk about Madagascar the previous evening, Bill Merilees followed up with  a more informal discussion of his garden in Nanaimo and the mysteries of plant phenology.   “Phenology”, by the way, is just a scientific buzzword to describe the study of the timing of repeated events in the biological world.

Eleven of us met at Janet May’s house for tea and a fruitful (pun intended) discussion of how the systematic, careful study of questions like “when does my salmonberry flower” can lead to all kinds of other interesting questions and insights.  Such as…

– “So THAT’s why rufous hummingbirds show up when they do“.

– “My heavens, you mean one can detect global warming from Japanese cherry blossom records dating back for over 600 years?”   Yes, you CAN.

– “I’ve been keeping track of flowering dates for years.  Do you mean my old records might actually be USEFUL?”  Yes.  Henry David Thoreau’s records from Concord, Massachusetts certainly were!

So your old notes may constitute a gold mine.  And it’s easy to get involved! Two large and growing efforts to systematically collect and make data available to scientific researchers are the National Phenological Network in the United States and NatureWatch here in Canada.

Special thanks to Janet for hosting this event, to Heather for facilitating it, and to Bill for demonstrating once again how much can be gained by thoughtful observation, love of nature, and sharing your field-notes!