As the long days of summer fade and the fall bustle of back to school and work begins, we can all benefit by taking a few moments to slow down and pay attention to our surroundings. Observing the natural world is a way to notice the changes happening around you every day. It's good for your health too - a recent NY Times article suggests time in nature can improve your mood. And you never know what new discoveries you will make, as writer and artist Beth Surdut finds in her short radio piece The Art of Paying Attention: The Rabbit Warren

You'll notice changes here at the USA-NPN National Coordinating Office as well. Theresa Crimmins, who has long brought you interesting and timely phenology news, resources and opportunities, has moved into the role of Assistant Director. Erin Posthumus, who you may recognize from Nature's Notebook Campaign messages, has stepped into the role of Outreach Coordinator to continue to deliver useful content to your inbox. 

Take time to enjoy those fall colors! 

What your data are telling us
Precipitation and rainfall are important cues for California plants

The California Phenology Project, a partner of the USA-NPN, began in 2010 collecting observations of leaf budding, flowering, fruiting and leaf drop in California plant speces. These observations were compared with climate variables such as temperature and rainfall in a recent article in Ecosphere

The authors were able to detect variability in phenology across California for the four plant species studied. Generally, precipitation strongly influenced leaf phenology, while both precipitation and temperature were important for flower and fruit phenology. This study also tested data collection methods by volunteers and National Park Service staff using Nature's Notebook, and demonstrates the usefulness of data collected by trained volunteers.   
Photo: Brian F Powell
Daytime  - not nighttime - temperatures trigger leafing in temperate plants

Using data from phenology observation programs, including Nature's Notebook, the authors of a new study published in Nature Communications found that leaf unfolding is triggered more by daytime temperatures than by nighttime temperatures. This knowledge can lead to better predictions of when leaf-out might occur and improve vegetation models to estimate how a warmer world will affect phenology over different parts of the globe.   
What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN
What happened in 2015?

Don't miss our End-of-year Summary Webinar on October 8th at 2pm EDT! Learn what your 2015 observations reveal, and the ways scientists are using your observations. We will cover results from the 2015 Campaigns, as well as a range of other results from observers across the country. All webinars are recorded and posted

iPhone app now lets you see submitted data

The latest update to our iPhone app, to be released by the end of this week, greatly improves the synchronization process between your iPhone or iPad and the National Phenology Database. You can now see which observations have been submitted and uploaded to the database directly on the app. 

Recent happenings in the field
Photo: Gwen and James Anderson, Wikimedia Commons
Late spring frost causes early autumn colors in Appalachian trees

Visitors to the White Mountains of New Hampshire saw an unusual sight in late May and early June this year - large areas of autumn-like color. A team of researchers with the Appalachian Mountain Club determined the reason was below-freezing temperatures in late May, which caused frost damage in trees around 2500 feet elevation. The effect that the late-frost will have on this year's fall leaf peeper season is still to be seen.

Is climate change bad news for bees?

A team of researchers at Dartmouth College, led by Rebecca Irwin, are studying what happens when snow melts and flowers emerge earlier in the Rocky Mountains. If the flowers emerge before the bees are there to pollinate them, that could spell trouble for both bees and the flowers. A video produced by High Country News explains how the team is investigating this potential mismatch. 

Nature's Notebook Nuggets
Photo: Brian F Powell
As the leaves turn, when can I say "yes" to colored leaves?

When it comes to reporting on colored leaves, any amount of color (regardless of the reason) means a 'yes'. If reporting on intensity, consider the percent of color in the canopy respective to the canopy at 100% fullness - and it might take a year to know what this looks like for your plant. 

More ways to get involved
Photo: Brian F Powell
Celebrate Phenology Days next month

October 17-24th is our official Phenology Days celebration. We will be hosting a variety of fun phenology events in the Tucson area. We encourage you to celebrate phenology in your own way, by visiting your favorite Nature's Notebook site to view fall colors, appreciating the amazing feat that migratory animals undergo each year, or just taking time to notice the natural world around you. Share pictures of your celebrations on Instagram or Twitter with #phenoweek2015.

Photo: Brian F Powell
Enjoy the fall foliage?

Then check out The Foliage Network, an organization that tracks the fall foliage in 16 states in the eastern/northern U.S. Would you like to get involved? Contact [email protected] to find out how!
Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator