phe·​nol·​o·​gy | fi-ˈnä-lə-jē

a branch of science dealing with the relations between climate and periodic biological phenomena (such as bird migration or plant flowering) – Merriam-Webster

In this project, we are focusing on the monitoring of trees. In the spring, we write down the date they start flowering, the date leaf bugs are opening, and the date the adult leaves are fully open. In the fall, we observe the tree leaves. A few times a week, we estimate what percentage of the leaves has changed colour and how much of the leaves remain on a tree.

Red maple in full bloom, Lennoxville 23 April 2018

Why is phenology important?

Phenology is an important field of study as it helps detect the impact of our changing climate. For example, data collected in the Northeastern United States showed that in 2001, lilacs were blooming 9 days earlier than they did in 19651. In Concord, Massachusetts, spring flowering plants bloomed 7 days earlier on average in 2004-2006 than they did in the 1850s and 1900s.2

How have recent changes in climate affected the trees in our region? Therein lies the problem: we simply do not know! Such data for the Eastern Townships is very sparse. Therefore, we need you, citizen scientist, to collect phenological observation. The goal of the project is to start collecting data that will be used in the future to track the impacts of our changing climate on our trees.


1 Wolfe, D.W., M.D. Schwartz, A.N. Lakso, Y. Otsuki, R.M. Pool, N.J. Shaulis 2005. Climate change and shifts in spring phenology of three horticultural woody perennials in northeastern USA. International Journal of Biometeorology 49 (5): 303-309.

2 Miller-Rushing, A.J., and R.B. Primack 2008. Global warming and flowering times in Thoreau’s Concord: a community perspective. Ecology 89 (2): 332-341.