Standardized phenology monitoring methods to track plant and animal activity for science and resource management applications

Ellen G. Denny, Katharine L. Gerst, Abraham J. Miller-Rushing, Geraldine L. Tierney, Theresa M. Crimmins, Carolyn A.F. Enquist, Patricia Guertin, Alyssa H. Rosemartin, Mark D. Schwartz, Kathryn A. Thomas, Jake F. Weltzin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


Phenology offers critical insights into the responses of species to climate change; shifts in species' phenologies can result in disruptions to the ecosystem processes and services upon which human livelihood depends. To better detect such shifts, scientists need long-term phenological records covering many taxa and across a broad geographic distribution. To date, phenological observation efforts across the USA have been geographically limited and have used different methods, making comparisons across sites and species difficult. To facilitate coordinated cross-site, cross-species, and geographically extensive phenological monitoring across the nation, the USA National Phenology Network has developed in situ monitoring protocols standardized across taxonomic groups and ecosystem types for terrestrial, freshwater, and marine plant and animal taxa. The protocols include elements that allow enhanced detection and description of phenological responses, including assessment of phenological "status", or the ability to track presence-absence of a particular phenophase, as well as standards for documenting the degree to which phenological activity is expressed in terms of intensity or abundance. Data collected by this method can be integrated with historical phenology data sets, enabling the development of databases for spatial and temporal assessment of changes in status and trends of disparate organisms. To build a common, spatially, and temporally extensive multi-taxa phenological data set available for a variety of research and science applications, we encourage scientists, resources managers, and others conducting ecological monitoring or research to consider utilization of these standardized protocols for tracking the seasonal activity of plants and animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-601
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of biometeorology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Animal
  • Climate change
  • Methods
  • Monitoring
  • Phenology
  • Plant
  • Protocol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Standardized phenology monitoring methods to track plant and animal activity for science and resource management applications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this