Plant enthusiasts of all levels of expertise have the opportunity to participate in a nationwide project to collect phenology data. What's phenology you ask. Well it is defined most succinctly by the folks at Project BudBurst; "Phenology is the study of the timing of life cycle events in plants and animals." Simply pick a plant from their list and record and report bud break, leaf out, and flowering. Researchers and "citizen scientists" can participate in a study with more rigorous guidelines at the parent site of Project BudBurst, USA National Phenology Network.
Currently the plant choices look a little slim for species found in Central Florida. But, on the list you will find red maple (Acer rubrum) a great species to track even for the novice. The red maple is easy to find and recognize and actually goes through a complete cycle of dormancy and growth in our sub tropical climate.
We will be tracking the red maple and other species in the Back Woods starting this fall. If you are interested in participating in a phenology project involving butterflies, check out MOSI's butterfly blog Lepcurious for details on MonarchLive.
Photos courtesy: Shirley Denton via Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2008. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants(http://www.plantatlas.usf.edu/).[S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.