Plant phenology networks of citizen scientists: recommendations from two decades of experience in Canada
- 422 Downloads
Plant phenology networks of citizen scientists have a long history and have recently contributed to our understanding of climate change effects on ecosystems. This paper describes the development of the Alberta and Canada PlantWatch programs, which coordinate networks of citizen scientists who track spring development timing for common plants. Tracking spring phenology is highly suited to volunteers and, with effective volunteer management, observers will stay loyal to a phenology program for many years. Over two decades beginning in 1987, Alberta PlantWatch volunteers reported 47,000 records, the majority contributed by observers who participated for more than 9 years. We present a quantitative analysis of factors that determine the quality of this phenological data and explore sources of variation. Our goal is to help those who wish to initiate new observer networks with an analysis of the effectiveness of program protocols including selected plant species and bloom stages.
KeywordsCitizen science Climate change Phenology Flowering Canada
Funding to carry out the analysis presented in this paper was provided by the NSERC Discovery Grant RGPIN-330527-07 and Alberta Ingenuity Grant #200500661. We thank all citizen scientists who contributed to the data collection and we appreciate their enthusiasm and continued support of this program. Comments on the manuscript were kindly provided by Dr. M. Hall-Beyer and we also thank L. Seale for editing.
- Beaubien EG (1991) Phenology of vascular plant flowering in Edmonton and across Alberta. MSc thesis. University of Alberta, Edmonton, AlbertaGoogle Scholar
- Beaubien EG, Hamann A (2011) Spring flowering response to climate change between 1936 and 2006 in Alberta, Canada. Bioscience 61 (in press). doi: 10.1525/bio.2011.61.7.6
- Bird CD (1983) Alberta flowering dates. Alberta Nat 13(Suppl 1):1–4Google Scholar
- Droege S (2007) Just because you paid them doesn’t mean their data are better. Pages 13–26 in McEver C, Bonney R, Dickinson J, Kelling S, Rosenberg K, Shirk J, (eds) Citizen Science Toolkit Conference Proceedings. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, June 20–23, 2007Google Scholar
- Koch E (2010) Global framework for data collection-Data bases, data availability, future networks, online databases. In: Hudson IL, Keatley MR (eds) Phenological research, methods for environmental and climate change analysis. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 23–61Google Scholar
- Louv R (2008) Last child in the woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Algonquin, Chapel Hill, NCGoogle Scholar
- Moss EH (1983) In: Packer JG (ed) Flora of Alberta, 2nd edn. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ONGoogle Scholar
- Natural Regions Committee (2006) Natural regions and Subregions of Alberta. Compiled by DJ Downing and WW Pettapiece. Edmonton. Pub. No. T/852. Alberta Environment, Government of Alberta, Edmonton, ABGoogle Scholar
- R Development Core Team (2008) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R foundation for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0, URL http://www.R-project.org
- SAS Institute (2008) SAS/STAT 9.2 User’s guide. SAS Institute, Cary, NCGoogle Scholar
- Vasseur L, Guscott RL, Mudie PJ (2001) Monitoring of spring flower phenology in Nova Scotia: comparison over the last century. Northeast Nat 8:393–402Google Scholar