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Citizen scientists can help track climate change | TBO.com

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http://www2.tbo.com/news/community-news/2012/feb/01/brnewso17-citizen-scientists-can-help-track-climat-ar-353079/

Citizen scientists can help track climate change

SEFFNER —

Are American robins traveling through your area at the same time every year? What about monarch butterflies?

Information on when the purple cone flower produces, or when the saw palmetto puts out berries can help scientists determine how climate change is affecting Florida.

Those who want to help out can attend a free workshop on Feb. 11 to teach volunteers exactly what to do and how to do it. The workshop will take place at the Hillsborough County Extension Office, 5339 S. County Road 579, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Nature’s Notebook, a program of the National Phenology Network, is an innovative partnership between scientists and citizens to train people how to recognize changes in keystone plant and animal species. They can track when a tree produces buds, when flowers bloom, or when monarch butterflies first appear each year.

“I took this class last summer in Pinellas County, and now we are teaming up to offer it in Hillsborough,” said Nanette O’Hara, spokeswoman for the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

“We train you, and we’re just begging for help in making these observations,” O’Hara said.

Scientists throughout the United States will have access to the findings. The information will be critical to farmers, resource managers and a host of other groups, O’Hara said.

“This is a perfect thing for people who are gardeners, because they are so observant, anyway,” she said.

Volunteers fill out simple online data sheets noting their observations. The information will be used to help scientists monitor changes in plant and animal cycles and behavior associated with a changing climate.

Participants also can see where else in the country data is being collected on the National Phenology Network, www.usanpn.org.

It’s a commitment of about 15 minutes every week or so.

The U.S. Geological Survey is co-sponsoring the workshop with the estuary program.

To sign up for the workshop, go to www.tbed.org.

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Written by vaphc

February 1, 2012 at 11:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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