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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  2. Abstract The number and diversity of phenological studies has increased rapidly in recent years. Innovative experiments, field studies, citizen science projects, and analyses of newly available historical data are contributing insights that advance our understanding of ecological and evolutionary responses to the environment, particularly climate change. However, many phenological data sets have peculiarities that are not immediately obvious and can lead to mistakes in analyses and interpretation of results. This paper aims to help researchers, especially those new to the field of phenology, understand challenges and practices that are crucial for effective studies. For example, researchers may fail to account for sampling biases in phenological data, struggle to choose or design a volunteer data collection strategy that adequately fits their project’s needs, or combine data sets in inappropriate ways. We describe ten best practices for designing studies of plant and animal phenology, evaluating data quality, and analyzing data. Practices include accounting for common biases in data, using effective citizen or community science methods, and employing appropriate data when investigating phenological mismatches. We present these best practices to help researchers entering the field take full advantage of the wealth of available data and approaches to advance our understanding of phenology and its implications for ecology. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 29, 2024
  3. abstract Ecologists are increasingly combining historical observations made by naturalists with modern observations to detect the ecological effects of climate change. This use of historical observations raises the following question: How do we know that historical data are appropriate to use to answer current ecological questions? In the present article, we address this question for environmental philosopher Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden. Should we trust his observations? We qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate Thoreau's observations using a three-step framework: We assess the rigor, accuracy, and utility of his observations to investigate changes in plants and animals over time. We conclude that Thoreau was an accurate observer of nature and a reliable scientist. More importantly, we describe how this simple three-step approach could be used to assess the accuracy of other scientists and naturalists. 
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  4. Summary

    Botanical gardens make unique contributions to climate change research, conservation, and public engagement. They host unique resources, including diverse collections of plant species growing in natural conditions, historical records, and expert staff, and attract large numbers of visitors and volunteers. Networks of botanical gardens spanning biomes and continents can expand the value of these resources. Over the past decade, research at botanical gardens has advanced our understanding of climate change impacts on plant phenology, physiology, anatomy, and conservation. For example, researchers have utilized botanical garden networks to assess anatomical and functional traits associated with phenological responses to climate change. New methods have enhanced the pace and impact of this research, including phylogenetic and comparative methods, and online databases of herbarium specimens and photographs that allow studies to expand geographically, temporally, and taxonomically in scope. Botanical gardens have grown their community and citizen science programs, informing the public about climate change and monitoring plants more intensively than is possible with garden staff alone. Despite these advances, botanical gardens are still underutilized in climate change research. To address this, we review recent progress and describe promising future directions for research and public engagement at botanical gardens.

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  5. Abstract

    Climate‐driven shifts in phenology, which are being observed worldwide, affect ecosystem services, trophic interactions, and community composition, presenting challenges to managers in protected areas. Resource management benefits from local, species‐specific phenology information. However, phenology monitoring programs in heterogeneous landscapes typically require serendipitous historical records or many years of contemporary data before trends in phenological responses to changes in climate can be analyzed. Here, we used a trails‐as‐transects approach to rapidly accumulate monitoring data across environmental gradients on three mountains in Acadia National Park, Maine,USA, and compared our results to phenological changes observed in Concord, Massachusetts,USA. In four years of intensive monitoring of transects on three mountains, we found large variability in spring temperatures across the mountains, but consistent patterns of advancing flower and leaf phenology in warmer microclimates. Reduced sampling intensity would have yielded similar results, but a shorter duration would not have revealed these patterns. The plants in Acadia responded to warming spring temperatures by shifting leaf and flower phenology in the same direction (earlier), but at a reduced rate (as measured in d/°C), in comparison with plants in southern New England (e.g., Concord, Massachusetts,USA). Our approach takes advantage of topographical complexity and associated microclimate gradients to substitute for long time series, allowing for rapid assessment of phenological response to climate. Other climate gradients (e.g., urban‐to‐rural, latitudinal, or coastal‐to‐inland) could work similarly. This intensive monitoring over a short time period quickly builds a robust dataset and can inform management decisions regarding future monitoring strategies, including sampling designs for citizen science‐based phenology monitoring programs.

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