Summer is almost at an end, and if the Nature's Notebook homepage tree is any indication, you have been busy bees this summer! We are so grateful to all of you dedicated observers who have been steadily tracking your plants and animals this year. Thank you!

There is still plenty to observe in the fall, including beautiful autumn leaf color, birds making their southward migration, and even the absence of insects from your yards, parks, and other favorite observing locations. 

Wondering what to do when your plants are dormant and the animals you track have left for the winter? Test your observation skills with our new Basic Botany and Intensity Quizzes! Find them below.  

Happy fall observing! 
What your data are telling us
Your observations help manage buffelgrass

Buffelgrass, an invasive perennial grass that out-competes natives, threatens to transform the current Sonoran Desert landscape. Managers need to treat buffelgrass with herbicides when the plant is at least 50% green. The authors of a new study in the journal Remote Sensing found that buffelgrass responds quickly to rain, with plant green up occurring twice as fast in areas with buffelgrass than areas with mostly native vegetation. 

This information will help managers know the best time to get out to 
spray buffelgrass. Studies such as this, which integrate on-the-ground 
observations of phenology with satellite data, demonstrate the power of 
multiple data sources to inform management activities.
Your observations help to fill the data gap

The work you do collecting observations through Nature's Notebook was recently highlighted in Yale Climate Connections in two short podcast features. Listen to USA-NPN's Assistant Director Theresa Crimmins talk about how participants have been tracking changes in phenology to fill the data gap, and Web Designer Sara Schaffer talk about how she discovered her inner citizen scientist. 

What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN
Test your skills with new Intensity quizzes          

The Nature's Notebook plant protocols ask you a series of questions about the presence of phenophases and the degree to which these phenophases are expressed, which we call intensity. This series of quizzes was designed to help you learn to identify phenophases and estimate intensity of your plants. 

New way to download phenology data          

We've revamped the way that you download data from the National Phenology Database. The new Phenology Observation Portal is a more streamlined, user-friendly way to download customized data files by location, dates, species, phenophases or your Nature's Notebook group. 

Second summer podcast: Beth Surdut        

Writer and artist Beth Surdut knows that the best way to learn about the natural world is to slow down and pay attention to your surroundings. In our second summer podcast, Beth sits down with USA-NPN Education Coordinator LoriAnne Barnett to talk about her recommendations for observing and how most of her critter stories start with asking "I wonder..."

Recent happenings in the field
Photo: Tyler N, istockphoto
Early springs, late freezes may become the new norm

The "false spring" of 2012 was the earliest in an over 100 year record, and resulted in large-scale agricultural losses. To find out if these types of springs will become more common in the future, researchers used new climate change simulation models, including the USA-NPN's 
Spring Indices, to distinguish natural climate fluctuations from 
longer-term trends. They found that by mid-century, we could see 
springs like that of 2012 as often as one out of every three years. They 
also found last freeze dates may not change at the same rate, resulting 
in more large-scale tissue damage and agricultural losses. 

Photo: Dave Hensley, 
Phenology highlighted in National Park Service research snapshot

Phenology was one of six snapshots of Earth and atmospheric research conducted in the National Park System. The snapshot highlights a large-scale research study being conducted at Acadia National Park, focusing on potential mismatch between migrating birds and food availability. 

Nature's Notebook Nuggets
Photo: Brian F Powell
How many individual plants should I observe?

For your Nature's Notebook plant observations, we ask you to observe two to three individuals of each plant species at each of your sites, if you have them available. Observing more than one individual plant allows you to capture the individual variation in phenological events that can be caused by many factors including genetics and microclimate. This will produce a more accurate picture of the timing of phenophases for a species at your site.  

More ways to get involved
What is your learning preference?

We have a lot of information that we regularly share with you, including patterns in phenology recorded in Nature's Notebook, summaries from our campaigns, tutorials on new tools, and more!

How do you like to receive this information? Do you love webinars? Hate infographics? Like watching instructional videos, but only if they're 
short? Let us know in this 2-question survey!

Tracking change on the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Mountain Club staff and volunteers are using Nature's Notebook to track phenology along the Appalachian Trail to better understand impacts of climate change. The data collected are 
used to help managers decide when to schedule invasive species 
removals, tell hikers when to avoid pesky insects, and when they 
have the best chance of enjoying fall foliage. 

Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator