Phenology is complicated word, but basically it is ‘the study of the timing of biological events and how they are influenced by the environment’. Many of you are probably already paying attention to phenology without really thinking about it. For example when do you notice the first flowers in spring or the first leaves changing color in the fall? Did your lawn turn brown earlier or later than normal? The timing of these events can change from year to year depending on the conditions experienced by living organisms. The study of this is referred to as studying ‘Phenology’.
Can you think why it might be important to understand phenology?
How about if you are a farmer…do you think it would be important then? Understanding of phenology is very important to know when to plant your crops and when to harvest them.
This year we are noticing large changes in phenology at our study site in Costa Rica. It appears that many things are several weeks or even a month behind their typical schedule!
This is a pretty big change and it is very noticeable to us since very few of the Heliconia we study are blooming. Mauricio and Tocho (our local field technicians) have pointed out to us that it didn’t rain as much this past fall/winter as other years and this could be why things are not as far along. While the slow arrival of flowers may delay our work a bit this offers many new questions for us to answer.