Journal Article


Geetha RamaswamiSwati SidhuSuhel Quader
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Using citizen science to build baseline data on tree phenology (2021)

Large-scale and long-term baselines on climate-sensitive phenology of widespread tree species are lacking in the Indian subcontinent. Citizen scientists can help bridge this information gap by contributing simple, technology-based data. Here we describe an India-wide initiative called SeasonWatch, with preliminary insights into contributor behaviour and species phenology. Between 2011 and 2019, cumulative contributor numbers have increased every year, although consistent contribution remains constant and low. We describe seasonal and spatial phenological patterns in most-observed species based on repeated monitoring and one-time ‘bioblitz’ events. We study in detail the flowering phenology of one particular species, Cassia fistula, which appears to show aberrant phenology, reflecting a potential shift away from culturally known flowering dates. We conclude that citizen science-contributed information can be a valuable reference database to compare future changes in tree phenology.