Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers are recruiting volunteers to adopt a phenology monitoring plot in areas throughout the park. Volunteers will collect information as part of an important research project tracking seasonal biological data such as plant flowering dates and the presence of migratory birds. Tracking this phenology data across the park allows scientists to better understand how plants and animals might be influenced by seasonal variations in climate.
The phenology monitoring training will be held 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tenn. or Saturday, March 5, 2016 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC. After training, volunteers will be assigned to a phenology plot where they will collect data multiple times throughout the growing season. Plots are located near parking areas near Deep Creek, Fontana Lake, Oconaluftee, Purchase Knob, Cataloochee, Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap, Davenport Gap, Greenbrier, and Twin Creeks.
For more information about phenology research efforts across the country, please visit the National Phenology Network website at https://www.usanpn.org/.
Information collected by volunteers will go into a national database that helps answer climate questions across the region. In recent decades, park temperature records show trends indicating that spring has warmed by almost 5 degrees F. Monitoring phenology will help park rangers understand how earlier springs followed by cold snaps affect our mountain forests.
If you are interested in signing up for the training, please contact Chrissy Cochran at [email protected] or 828-497-1945.