What is a Phenology notebook?November 9, 2011 2 Comments
WRITTEN BY: BIANCA PERLA
Phenology (fin-noll-uh-gee) is defined as:
A branch of science that studies the cycles of plant and animal life. Phenology tells scientists when events, such as bird migration, are happening on their usual schedule--and when an event might be out of time or place, especially in relation to the climate and change of seasons.
Posts in this Phenology notebook section of the blog are designed to record anything to do with seasonal change on Vashon-Maury Island. We are hoping to keep track of changes through time to get a feel for how life on these islands cycles. We also hope to get insight into how those cycles themselves may be changing overtime, and what implications, if any, this may have.
Remember how the salmonberry blooms right around the time hummingbirds arrive? Or how the salmon spawning time is aligned with fall rains that raise our creeks? And how around spawning time we also start seeing Orcas more frequently? One of my friends has a dominant philosophy which she sums up as, "life is timing." If you start thinking about phenology long enough you might agree that there is something to that philosophy.
Paying attention to the ebb and flow of life through the seasons gives us very important information about how island ecosystems function and how they may be changing through time. Because life is so interdependent, changes in timing of certain behaviors by one group of animals or plants can have wider implications that ripple through other groups.
Being tuned in to seasonal changes is also a very grounding experience that can increase our own personal connection to nature. I have found it becomes a very personal experience to notice seasonal changes because I can mark changes within myself that are mirrored in the woods and streams and beaches surrounding me.
As humans we naturally track changes in the seasons, sometimes without even being aware of it. When my dad sees the swallows arrive each year he says, "tax time!" And I remember as a girl the peculiar mix of excitement and sadness I had watching the swallows line up on the power lines preparing to leave. When I saw the swallows congregating I knew there was no escaping it, summer was over and school was starting. I still get that feeling in the pit of my stomach when I see the swallows line up today.
If you have a natural inclination to follow the seasons check back here often. We will be highlighting a wide array of ecological cycles and sharing places where you can go to witness these changes. Enjoy!