If you need an excuse to get out into your woodland this year why not sign up to Track a Tree? The Woodland Trust is asking volunteers to pick a tree and record the seasonal timing of its growth, and that of any flora – like snowdrops or bluebells – growing beneath it as the year warms up.
Track a Tree is a sister project of Nature’s Calendar, the Trust’s recording scheme for seasonal observations.
Track a Tree aims to record the spring phenology, or seasonal timing of individual woodland trees and the flowering plants that make up the woodland understorey, or ground flora. It has been developed by Christine Tansey, the Nature’s Calendar PhD researcher who is based at the University of Edinburgh.
The research says that there are four important features which make this a unique project:
* It follows woodland trees. Through recording the phenology of UK woodland communities, we can find out how seasonal timing varies across some of our most important habitats.
* It follows individual trees. This means we can find out how much trees are able to adjust their phenology from year to year as climate conditions vary.
* It follows randomly selected trees in woodland. This means the whole range of seasonal timing is observed for different species, not just the first events that happen.
* It follows interacting species. By observing the flowering of plants beneath individual trees, we can see whether these ground flora species can shift their phenology to keep up with changes in the timing of shading.
Track a Tree will provide important insights into the seasonal timing of woodland species and this will help shed light on how future changes in climate could affect the interactions between trees and flowering plants.
If possible, recorders will visit their chosen trees weekly, and they will be asked to monitor their chosen trees from before budburst through to leafing.
For more information about getting involved email C.J.Tansey@sms.ed.ac.uk directly and sign up to track a tree near you this spring.
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