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Sep. 16, 2011

Fall into Citizen Science - Watch a Plant!

by Lisa Gardiner

Click to enlarge images

The leaves of red maple trees turn bright red as temperatures cool in the fall.

Plants have a lot going on as autumn temperatures cool. Some leaves turn bright yellow or red and fall from trees. Fruits grow large and ripe. Grasses become brittle and brown. Some flowers, like California poppies, bloom in the autumn too.

Project BudBurst is looking for volunteers to take note of what plants are doing as the seasons change. During the “Fall into Phenology” event volunteers around the country will be heading outside between September 17 and 26 to collect data about how plants respond to changes in their environment.

Phenology is the science that examines life cycles of plants and animals and how they are affected by seasons and climate.

A timed event like Fall into Phenology can create a snapshot of seasonal change across the country. The more people who take part, the better the picture and the more useful the data is to science. Check the Project BudBurst website to for a map of observations across the country and see how the picture is developing during the event.

To participate:

  1. Download the Single Report form.
  2. Observe a plant September 17 – 26.
  3. Report your data online

The Project BudBurst scientists are also interested in knowing how plants respond to changes in their environment all year long. They invite volunteers to keep watching their plants all year too, so check the website if you'd like to become a long term plant monitor.

About Lisa Gardiner

Dr. Lisa Gardiner is a writer and content creator at Spark: Science Education at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. She likes how citizen science and social media get people involved in science and is a contributing editor at SciStarter.com.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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