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Lead Scientist(s): Victoria Kelly

Nature’s Clock: Fern Glen Phenology Trail

As the region gets warmer, we expect plants and animals to respond by shifting their migration or development. This shift could affect survival of some species if the development of codependent species doesn۪t occur at the same time. Imagine if flowers bloomed before their pollinators emerged. Or if birds migrated to feeding grounds that lacked the fruits they need to eat and survive.

To understand how climate change affects phenology, the Cary Institute participates in two national programs, the USA National Phenology Program (USA-NPN) and the University of New Hampshire PhenoCam Project. We have monitored the spring and fall development of five tree species at the Cary Institute since 2008.


Citizen science opportunities

Capturing changes in the environment with user submitted photos

Your observations can help us monitor changes in our environment. Chronolog photo stations have been set-up in our Fern Glen and Lowlands. Instructions for taking and uploading photos are provided at each station. Your photo will be added to a time-lapse video of the location.

Fern Glen time-lapse

Lowlands time-lapse

Monitoring long-term changes in our environment helps us assess the impact of climate change, pollution, invasions by non-native species, forest pests and pathogens and perhaps most importantly, the effectiveness of actions to address these threats to our ecosystems.

Nature's Clock

In 2014, we expanded our phenology monitoring to include a citizen science-based program to monitor trees, shrubs and forbs in our Fern Glen. This program is a collaborative effort with the New York Phenology Project (NYPP) and the Environmental Monitoring & Management Alliance (EMMA).

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer citizen scientist, please contact Vicky Kelly at or 845-677-7600 ext. 174.

Visitors to our Fern Glen Phenology Trail use maps and keys to identify plants they have observed.

PhenoCam Project

The PhenoCam Project uses highly sensitive cameras that provide real-time automated, near-surface remote sensing of the forest canopy. The images are analyzed for color composition, providing a long-term record of changes in seasonal canopy development.

View latest image from Web Cam >>.