Park needs Citizen Science Volunteers

by Feb 8, 2017COMMUNITY sgadugi0 comments


Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers are recruiting volunteers to adopt a tree monitoring plot in areas throughout the park. Volunteers will collect information as part of an important research project tracking seasonal biological change called phenology. Volunteers will record when trees leaf out and when leaves start to change colors. They may also track the presence of target migratory birds. Collecting phenology data across the park allows scientists to better understand how plants and animals might be influenced by seasonal variations in climate.

The phenology monitoring training will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 9:30am – 12:30pm. at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tenn. or Saturday, March 11 from 9:30am – 12:30pm at Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee.  After training, volunteers will be assigned to a phenology plot where they will collect data multiple times throughout the growing season.  Plots are located near parking areas near Deep Creek, Fontana Lake, Oconaluftee, Purchase Knob, Cataloochee, Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap, Davenport Gap in North Carolina and Sugarlands, Greenbrier, and Twin Creeks in Tennessee.

Information collected by volunteers will go into a national database that helps answer climate questions across the region. In recent decades, park temperature records show trends indicating that spring has warmed by almost 5 degrees Fahrenheit.  Monitoring phenology will help park rangers understand how earlier springs followed by cold snaps affect our mountain forests.

If you are interested in signing up for the training, please contact Natalie Rothenberg at or 497-1945.

For more information about phenology research efforts across the country, please visit the National Phenology Network website at