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Resources for Coastal Observers

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For volunteers having access to the shoreline, Coastal Signs of the Seasons is an opportunity to provide scientists with information on an ecologically and economically valuable species.  Coastal observers measure the growth and development of the brown alga, Ascophyllum nodosum, which is commonly called “rockweed” or “knotted wrack”.  Seasonal reproductive changes in this species are affected by environmental conditions, such as water temperature.  By closely monitoring this rockweed, as an indicator species, researchers are able to examine changes in the intertidal zone that may affect other species that live there.

A lot of information can be gathered through coastal monitoring, but there is also a lot of New England coastline to monitor.  The diligent efforts of many volunteer observers can combine to create a robust data set for our collaborating scientists.  We invite you to become a citizen scientist observer by monitoring rockweed in your area.  Please see the Coastal Field Guide link below for more information or contact us to register for a training session.

Image of SOS Field Guide CoverSigns of the Seasons: A New England Phenology Program Coastal Field Guide: (Online)  (PDF)  Our training and field observation handbook shows you how to set up your observation program for the rockweed species, Ascophyllum nodosum. Includes information on how to record your observation data. The handbook provides detailed information on each step, as well as additional resources to help you get started.


Recording Your Data

Already trained? Plan to travel out to your site at low tide to observe Rockweed phenophases throughout the season. Bring along a Phenophase Datasheet to record both the phases and the water quality. Once a year, usually in the spring, plan to also complete an Age and Growth assessment at your site.

Print data sheets to take into the field using the links below:

After you have collected data, enter it as often as possible using the following links:

rockweed flowers: dotted inflated receptacles

Rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) reproductive receptacles.