Implementing a U.S. National Phenology Network

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Abstract

The passing of seasons, as gauged by annual events or phenophases in organisms' life cycles, is arguably one of the most pervasive environmental variations on Earth. Shifts in seasonal timing, or phenology, are observed in flowering and other stages of plant development, animal migration and reproduction, hibernation, and the seasonal activity of cold-blooded animals [e.g., Schwartz, 2003; Root et al., 2005]. As an important life history trait, phenology is an object of natural selection; depending on timescales, shifts in phenology can lead to evolutionary change. Thus, phenology is not only an indicator of pattern in environmental science, but also its variation has fitness consequences for individuals, and these can scale up to broader ecological dynamics.

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