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National Phenology Network. How does your garden grow? A team of ecologists and climate scientists wants to know. Project BudBurst invites the public to record the timing of leaves, flowers, and fruits to help track climate change. Part of the USA National Phenology Network (NPN), the project began in 2007 to foster consistent continentwide monitoring of phenology--the timing of annual biological cycles. Participants from across the United States enter their reports on the Project BudBurst Web site, and university and government researchers will analyze the data.

Jake Weltzin, a government ecologist and NPN executive director, says the network aims to understand how climate variation affects ecosystems. Plant phenology is a "sensitive integrator" of environmental factors, he says. For example, the timing of lilac blooms in the western United States is one of the best ways to predict a wildfire year.

To monitor how plants respond to climate, NPN will maintain a database that includes contributions from trained researchers and Project BudBurst participants. In 2007, a test run of BudBurst fielded 913 observations from 26 states. Sandra Henderson, a science educator and Project BudBurst coordinator, says the program captured the public imagination because of the climate change connection. "People don't want to sit on the sidelines and be passive observers," she says.

Course Coordinators-- Charles Hoyt x5528; Margie Stinson x5324