Wildflower bloom patterns illustrate changes in phenology

April 22nd, 2014 8:31 AM
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Researcher David Inouye has been observing flowers in the Rocky Mountains for 39 years. His recent published findings show changes in bloom patterns that provide clues to a shifting global climate. Of the species examined, two thirds have adjusted the timing of their blooms, with over a third of the species reaching peak bloom earlier than in previous years. Some species are blooming earlier, while others are continuing to bloom later. These changes have extended the flowering season by over a month.

Will the bloom pattern continue to change in future years? How will these changes affect birds and insects that help pollinate flowering plants or depend on them for food? Signs of the Seasons volunteers help scientists to answer similar phenology questions in New England by recording their observations. To join this dedicated group, visit How to Get Involved and learn more about collecting data in your own community. Further information on Dr. Inouye’s research is available at ScienceDaily1.

1University of Maryland. “Rocky mountain wildflower season lengthens by more than a month.” ScienceDaily. 17 March 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140317155611.htm.

Free Press Advances Training Sessions to Help with Climate Research

April 2nd, 2014 2:50 PM
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The Free Press reported the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant will offer free training sessions for Signs of the Seasons, a program for volunteers to contribute local plant and animal life-cycle data for climate change research. Sessions are open to all interested volunteers, and registration is required. Sessions in the midcoast area will be held March 22 in Newcastle, March 25 in Belfast and April 5 in Boothbay.

Pen Bay Pilot Previews Citizen Science Training

March 25th, 2014 10:34 AM
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Penobscot Bay Pilot reported that University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Sea Grant College Program at the University of Maine will a conduct a free citizen science training session 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. March 25, 2014 at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast. The program, “Signs of the Seasons,” focuses on the history and science of phenology (study of seasonal changes in plants and animals).

Assistant Coordinator Wanted for Signs of the Seasons: A New England Phenology Program

March 7th, 2014 10:23 AM
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UMaine Extension is pleased to offer a temporary part-time professional position for Signs of the Seasons to assist with resource development, volunteer support, coastal project development, and climate change education.

Please see the full announcement (PDF) for information on responsibilities, qualifications, timeframe, location, hours, salary, and how to apply.

Review of applications to begin immediately.

The University of Maine is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer committed to diversity of its workforce.

Free Press Advances Stancioff’s Talk on Coastal Maine’s Changes

February 7th, 2014 12:52 PM
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The Free Press reported the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association of Newcastle, Maine, will host a talk by Esperanza Stancioff, an educator with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant, as part of its winter talk series “Citizen Science in the Sheepscot Watershed.” Stancioff will speak on February 5, 2014 about the current research on how coastal Maine’s climate is changing, how it might change in the future and the current adaptations that are under way.

Fall Tips for Bird Observation: Seth Benz

September 20th, 2013 9:30 PM
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Seth Benz is Director of the Bird Ecology Lab at the Schoodic Education and Research Center of Acadia National Park.Seth Benz, director of the Bird Ecology Lab at the Schoodic Education and Research Center of Acadia National Park, discusses the importance of bird observation as the seasons turn. He says detailed information on fall behaviors can help scientists puzzle out the effects of climate change on different species. Benz notes that while animal numbers and locations are crucial, bird diet is also of great interest. See his tips here.

Tips for Fall Plant Observation: Professor Lois Stack

September 20th, 2013 9:06 PM
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red maple leavesTips for fall observation! Professor Lois Stack of UMaine offers Signs of the Seasons volunteers helpful pointers as we move into fall, a season of dramatic change that offers many opportunities to see phenology in action. In fact, detailing changes to plant life is every bit as crucial now as in the spring.  See her tips here.

Signs of the Seasons: A New England Phenology Program

August 22nd, 2013 10:47 PM
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Ruby-Throated Hummingbird at Cardinal Flower

Image source: Bill Buchanan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Signs of the Seasons is expanding its reach beyond the state of Maine. The program has begun training volunteers in New Hampshire and changing its focus to New England as a whole. “The program has attracted interest outside the state of Maine and we want to invite interested volunteers to join us in observing the detailed turns of phenology,” said program director Ezperanza Stancioff, a Climate Change Educator at University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant. She said the program is open to further expansion in the New England region. Please contact us for additional information.

Volunteer in the Spotlight

August 13th, 2013 10:00 AM
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Orrin ShaneDr. Orrin Shane’s lifelong interest in milkweed began when he was a boy in the 1940s. He and his childhood friends picked bushels of the plants for the war effort. The fluffy insides of pods were used to fill life preservers for soldiers overseas. “That was my introduction to milkweed,” Shane said. “It is a plant of many faces.” Today, as a volunteer of the Signs of the Seasons phenology program, Shane regularly observes milkweed for signs of Monarch butterflies and caterpillars. He found his current stand accidentally after a futile search of his Portland neighborhood. Read more.

The Story of Milkweed

August 13th, 2013 9:25 AM
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Rogan milkweed plateMaine’s hearty pod-bearing milkweed is an essential part of seasonal change. The stalky perennial provides annual food and shelter to butterflies in all stages of metamorphosis. The insects depend on the safe haven provided by Maine’s three types of milkweed plants: the sun-loving butterfly and common types and the purple-flowered swamp variety. Maine gardeners also plant non-native species as ornamentals or to attract butterflies. Found primarily in North America, the plant provides butterflies and caterpillars shelter, food and defense against predators. Monarchs, for example, lay their eggs almost exclusively on milkweed. After hatching, monarch larvae feed on the leaves, ingesting the plant’s toxins. This brilliant trick of nature makes both caterpillars and butterflies unpalatable to predators such as birds and small rodents. Read more