Project BudBurst

By Susan Littlefield

It may still be cold in many parts of the country, but we've turned the corner toward springtime and the days are getting longer. It won't be too much longer before buds are bursting out all over.

So now is a good time to be thinking about participating as a citizen scientist in Project BudBurst. This project relies on individuals from all over the country using their observational skills to collect important ecological data on the timing of the leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants. Scientists can then use this data that has been collected in a consistent manner across the country to learn more about how various plant species respond to changes in the climate, both locally and nationally.

Begun in 2007, Project BudBurst is managed by the National Ecological Observatory Network and the Chicago Botanic Garden and partners with a number of institutions and organizations around the country. Volunteer participants can sign up to be regular observers, selecting at least one plant and submitting data regularly, or can add single reports if they are not able to make an ongoing commitment. There are also materials designed specifically for educators to use to implement observations as a classroom project.

Visit the Project BudBurst website to find out how to sign up up and choose plants to observe, as well as for information on why this study of the timing of changes in plants and the rest of the natural world, called phenology, is important as scientists try to track and understand the effects of our changing climate.

To find out more about Project BudBurst or to sign up to participate, go to: Project BudBurst.

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