Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Don't be scared by the term.  It's just a simple biological term that defines the study of the seasonal  occurrence of biological events in animal and plant life.  Examples include the first and last sightings of birds, when flowers open or important stages in plants annual cycles are reached.  Phenology is important for two reasons, one being that practically everyone of us is a student of the science and two, it's becoming really important to the study of climate change.  Who doesn't have their favourite event that they watch which marks the passage from one season to the next.   If you have a garden you mark certain important stages.  Many people follow the date of flowering of lilacs across North America or when the robins return.  The reason we do it is because it's fun and it's deeply interwined within our own human evolution and our dependence on the environment for survival.

You don't need to wait for the spring to say you are participating in phenology studies, there are things going on all year long, it's just that spring is such an overwhelming season for the 'firsts' for so many plant and animal events.  I plan to write a number of posts that weave phenological events into them, and a number of my previous posts such as eagles thinking about nesting, the last coho salmon spawning and hazel nut catkins growing are all examples of phenology.  You can participate in phenology virtually anywhere you are because things are always changing, but it just so happens the Bella Coola Valley is an exceptionally good place to be an observer of phenology because there are so many natural events going on with the diversity of plants and animal species we have.

There are some really important long term examples of records of phenology that generations of families have kept for several hundred years that are now being examined for their linkages to climate trends.  Whatever your interests are, jot them down in a book or a computer and try to use the same area each year for your observations of first or last events and soon you will have your own phenological record that may be of interest someday.  For us the first pussy willows that have shown in the neighborhood in the last week are a good reminder to start paying attention.  Grizzly

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