, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 675–690 | Cite as

Assessing the changing flowering date of the common lilac in North America: a random coefficient model approach

  • Chris BrunsdonEmail author
  • Lex Comber


A data set consisting of Volunteered geographical information (VGI) and data provided by expert researchers monitoring the first bloom dates of lilacs from 1956 to 2003 is used to investigate changes in the onset of the North American spring. It is argued that care must be taken when analysing data of this kind, with particular focus on the issues of lack of experimental design, and Simpson’s paradox. Approaches used to overcome this issue make use of random coefficient modelling, and bootstrapping approaches. Once the suggested methods have been employed, a gradual advance in the onset of spring is suggested by the results of the analysis. A key lesson learned is that the appropriateness of the model calibration technique used given the process of data collection needs careful consideration.


Phenology Random effects models Citizen science 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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