Nature’s Notebook Recognizes ARMN Citizen Scientists

By Rosemary Jann, Phenology Program Leader

For the second year in a row, ARMN’s phenology project has been recognized as a top contributor of observations for Nature’s Notebook’s “Nectar Connectors” campaign.

Nature’s Notebook, the database tool of the USA National Phenology Network, enables volunteer citizen scientists to submit observations that chart the timing and intensity in the growth cycles of plants and animals. 

Pollinator insects like monarch butterflies need nectar to survive, so knowing when peak bloom, and thus peak nectar availability, occur for particular plant species can provide natural resource managers with information to match plantings with the pollinators in their areas. 

This kind of phenological research can also document the effects of climate change. For instance, if earlier spring warmth is causing pollinator plants to bloom earlier, before the insects that need them have hatched or arrived, both pollination and insect survival can be negatively impacted.  

More than 15,000 individuals nationwide contribute observations to Nature’s Notebook, ARMN decided to form a “Local Phenology Program” at the beginning of 2022 so that multiple team members could contribute observations to the same database, thus expanding the quantity and usefulness of our data.

Since then, ARMN’s team has placed twice in the top six contributors to the “Nectar Connectors” campaign, out of 55 participating local programs nationwide.

Four species, two monitoring sites

Team members earned this distinction by sharing weekly monitoring duties for four different “Nectar Connector” species: swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). The monitored plants are at two of ARMN’s native plant demonstration gardens, at the Arlington Central Library and at Potomac Overlook Regional Park. 

Congratulations and thanks are in order for the ARMN phenology team: Noreen Hannigan, Ginger Hays, Katherine Wychulis, and Elise Millstein at Central Library; and Gary Shinners, Carol Abel, David Evans, Carol Weldon, and Kit Britton at Potomac Overlook. Together they’ve shown the power of dedicated teamwork to expand the value of citizen science.

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