Building Capacity for a Long-Term, in-Situ, National-Scale Phenology Monitoring Network: Successes, Challenges and Lessons Learned

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 2:40 PM
Jake F Weltzin, US Geological Survey, Tucson, AZ, United States and Dawn M Browning, Agricultural Research Service, Las Cruces - ARS, Las Cruces, NM, United States
The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN; www.usanpn.org) is a national-scale science and monitoring initiative focused on phenology – the study of seasonal life-cycle events such as leafing, flowering, reproduction, and migration – as a tool to understand the response of biodiversity to environmental variation and change. USA-NPN provides a hierarchical, national monitoring framework that enables other organizations to leverage the capacity of the Network for their own applications - minimizing investment and duplication of effort - while promoting interoperability. Network participants can leverage: (1) Standardized monitoring protocols that have been broadly vetted, tested and published; (2) A centralized National Phenology Database (NPDb) for maintaining, archiving and replicating data, with standard metadata, terms-of-use, web-services, and documentation of QA/QC, plus tools for discovery, visualization and download of raw data and derived data products; and/or (3) A national in-situ, multi-taxa phenological monitoring system, Nature’s Notebook, which enables participants to observe and record phenology of plants and animals - based on the protocols and information management system (IMS) described above - via either web or mobile applications. The protocols, NPDb and IMS, and Nature’s Notebook represent a hierarchy of opportunities for involvement by a broad range of interested stakeholders, from individuals to agencies. For example, some organizations have adopted (e.g., the National Ecological Observatory Network or NEON) -- or are considering adopting (e.g., the Long-Term Agroecosystems Network or LTAR) -- the USA-NPN standardized protocols, but will develop their own database and IMS with web services to promote sharing of data with the NPDb. Other organizations (e.g., the Inventory and Monitoring Programs of the National Wildlife Refuge System and the National Park Service) have elected to use Nature’s Notebook to support their phenological monitoring programs. We highlight the challenges and benefits of integrating phenology monitoring within existing and emerging national monitoring networks, and showcase opportunities that exist when standardized protocols are adopted and implemented to promote data interoperability and sharing.