A new Wildlife Phenology Program will enlist professional and citizen scientists across the country to monitor and record seasonal wildlife events to help managers understand and respond to climatic and other environmental changes. The program will be housed at the National Coordinating Office of the USA-NPN at The University of Arizona in Tucson.
The Wildlife Society (TWS) and the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) announced the program today as the second phase in the USA-NPN's monitoring efforts; the Plant Phenology Program started in 2007.
Phenology is the study of the seasonal timing of plant and animal life-cycle events such as bird, fish and mammal migration; emergence from hibernation; and the leafing, blooming and fruiting of plants. Changes in the timing of these events are among the most sensitive biological responses to climate change. Over much of the world, spring events are occurring earlier. Consequently, many time-sensitive relationships, such as those between animals and their prey or plants and their pollinators are being disrupted.
"Wildlife managers are trying to quickly adapt to a changing climate, and this program is designed to help them adapt effectively," said Michael Hutchins, executive director of TWS.
A tremendous amount of knowledge can be gained from monitoring phenology, added Jake Weltzin, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist and executive director of USA-NPN. "We will gather information that can be used to predict migration times, disease spread, and ecosystem and animal distribution changes. This nationwide network will help provide decision-makers with the solid information they need."
Abraham J. Miller-Rushing will coordinate the new Wildlife Phenology Program. Miller-Rushing has a doctorate in biology from Boston University in 2007, and just completed a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory and the University of Maryland in College Park.
Miller-Rushing and his colleagues have already documented widespread changes in phenology of plants and animals that are in turn linked to declines in populations of many charismatic species, including those that Henry David Thoreau wrote about at Walden Pond.The USA-NPN (www.usanpn.org) aims to monitor and understand the influence of seasonal cycles on the nation's biological resources, and is a partnership of non-governmental organizations, academia, citizen volunteers, federal agencies and others. The partnership was established to increase the understanding of phenology and the impacts that recent national and global changes in timing are already having or will have on plants, animals and ecosystems.
Jake Weltzin, 520-401-4932, firstname.lastname@example.org Abraham Miller-Rushing, 617-875-7847, email@example.com
Laura Bies, Associate Director of Government Affairs, The Wildlife Society 301-897-9770 X 308, firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Puckett, USGS Office of Communications 352-275-2639, email@example.com
Additional information is available at www.usanpn.org
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