USA NPN National Phenology Network

Taking the Pulse of Our Planet

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Choose Plant and Animal Species

Select plant and animal species

As part of Nature’s Notebook, you are invited to observe both plants and animals. Observing phenology is very similar for both, however, because animals move around and plants do not, there is one important difference in the way we ask you to observe the two groups:

For plants: Observe the same individual plants each time you visit your site. For example, you should observe the same red maple in your back yard all through the year.

For animals: Create a checklist of animal species and look for all of them each time you visit your site. For example, if your checklist has robins, wood frogs, and tent caterpillars on it, you should record whether or not you see or hear those species anywhere in your site each time you visit.

Choose one or more species from our list of plant and animal species. For plants, we encourage you to select at least one plant campagin species. For animals, we recommend that you select several species that occur in your local area or in your state.

Make sure that you have correctly identified the plant and animal species at your site before reporting your observations for those species online. More...

View Plant and Animal List

Select individual plants

At your site(s) select one or more individuals of each of your chosen plant species to observe. Choose plants that appear to be healthy, undamaged, and free of pests and disease. If you want to observe several individuals of the same species, try to select individuals that are not direct neighbors, but are still growing in a similar environment. More...

For annuals (which only survive one growing season) and biennials (which survive for two growing seasons), avoid choosing the first or the last seedling to emerge in the spring since they may not be representative of the larger population at your site. More...

If your plant grows in a large mass where it is difficult to distinguish or mark individuals, you can choose to monitor the plant as a "patch". More...

Marking Individvual Plants

Because plant monitoring requires that you observe the same individual plants or patches repeatedly, you will also need to mark each plant so that you can find it on each visit. We recommend that you mark each individual plant or patch with a unique label. For example, you could mark pieces of flagging tape with “red maple-1”, “red maple-2”, etc. and then tie them to each of the red maples you are observing. More...

Click below for more information in PowerPoint format.