Monitoring phenology along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Setting an example for the National Park Service and beyond
It is critical to monitor the phenology - the timing of seasonal biological events, such as flowering and migrations - of plants and animals because of its ecological importance, response and sensitivity to climate change, and utility as an educational tool. This project will serve as a pilot to show how a park may incorporate phenology monitoring into its inventory and monitoring activities, helping to meet monitoring, research, management, and education needs. The project will feature collaboration between the USA National Phenology Network (NPN), The Wildlife Society (TWS), NPS Northeast Temperate Inventory and Monitoring Network (NETN), Acadia National Park, and Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). We will use this pilot to develop a plan for ongoing phenological monitoring along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which has identified phenology as a high priority vital sign, and as a model for other parks across the United States.
1. Develop protocols to monitor plant and animal phenology.
2. Identify and monitor the phenology of target species.
3. Educate NPS staff, park visitors, and the broader public.
4. Provide a template for future phenology monitoring.
We expect to pursue two levels of phenology monitoring. For the first level, we will provide material at key interpretive sites, asking volunteers to monitor easy-to-observe phenological events. For the second level, we will train volunteers and staff to make relatively advanced, standardized phenological observations (e.g., percent leaf coloring and egg masses).
We will educate and inform participants by providing maps and other resources on the AMC and NPN websites. These resources will show results from observations collected along the Appalachian Trail and at other locations, and will describe how those observations are being used for research, management, and education. We will also send a project newsletter to interested observers.
We will target day hikers of all ages at popular locations along the Appalachian Trail. Our protocols will be relatively simple to follow, and will encourage hikers to observe natural phenomena and will provide them a way to participate in climate change research.
Collaborative efforts between the USA-NPN and the US National Park Service