USA National Phenology Network Visualization Tool

Red oak tree leafing out in spring
Red oak tree leafing out in spring

The Phenology Visualization Tool lets users explore observational data collected via the Nature’s Notebook program. Nature’s Notebook collects information on plant and animal phenology (seasonal change) across the U.S. with the help of individuals or groups that act as observers. The Visualization Tool provides access to this information through a map-based interface.

Users can see the number and location of records that have been collected for specific species and phenophases (e.g., flowering, hatching). They can filter data by year, species, phenophase, and/or partner group that collected the observations. Users can then plot data to explore the relationship between climatic or environmental variables like spring temperature or precipitation, and species phenophase onset dates; or view data on species observations relative to one another. The tool does not make any predictions about phenology under future climate, but can be used for observing recent trends.

The visualization tool provides an online map-based interface for USA National Phenology Network data observations collected across the United States. Users can explore recent trends for species seasonal changes or phenophases (e.g., flowering, hatching), as they relate to climate variables or to one another.
The tool is based on observational data that have already been collected using a status monitoring approach. Users need to: Select data of interest: filter data by year, species, and/or partner group that collected the observations. Select geographic area or layer of interest (optional)
The map displays the number and location of observation records that have been collected for user-selected species and phenophases. Users can apply filters to select data of interest, and plot them two ways: 1) A scatter plot of onset observation dates of species phenophases vs. selected climatic or environmental variables or 2) A phenology calendar, where users can view the overall timing of activity of species phenophases alongside one another (e.g. lilac flowering and insect emergence). Custom data selections and graphs can be shared and downloaded.
Restrictions and Limitations: 
Phenological observations are collected by a variety of people and organizations. Users do have the option to filter data by the partner organization that collected observations, if they want tighter quality control. They can also select only observations that are preceded by a negative observation, helping to ensure that observations are being collected relatively consistently. Filtering and plotting data requires the user to make very specific species selections; it is not necessarily easy to browse the Visualization Tool for general patterns and trends within a specific area. Once a user is ready to plot data for a species, it is not clear how many records exist for each species phenophase – for example, how many records were collected for ‘hatching’ vs. ‘live adults’. If a phenophase without many records is selected, the resulting graphs can be confusing or appear blank. Please interpret results with caution. Since users can plot multiple variables against one another, it is possible to generate a graph that has a good fit line, but is not displaying a meaningful relationship.
Tool Developers: 

The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN)

Land Manager
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