Phenology across LTER

Network News Fall 2008, Vol. 21 No. 2
Network News

Phenology, in the words of Aldo Leopold, is a "horizontal science" that cuts across and binds together multiple biological disciplines (Leopold and Jones 1947). It is a far-reaching but poorly understood aspect of the environmental sciences. Although phenological research has been a component of LTER at several sites over the years, it has not received the attention or resources to bring it to the forefront as an effective theme for interdisciplinary and cross-site synthesis.

With the blossoming of the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN;, it is appropriate to assess the status of phenological knowledge across the LTER Network and to consider how the LTER Network might beneficially interact with the USA-NPN. At the 2006 LTER All Scientists Meeting, a working group on phenology was well attended with 10 LTER sites, the LTER Network Office (LNO), and the Chinese Environmental Research Network (CERN) represented. The workshop recommended a follow-on workshop to evaluate the status of phenological research across the LTER Network, to build a community of interest that could facilitate phenological analysis and synthesis across the Network, and to commence a cross-site synthesis of some extant phenological data.

Subsequently, LNO sponsored a workshop February 26 to March 2, 2007 at the Sevilleta LTER field station. Participants included:

  • John Anderson (JRN)
  • Geoff Henebry (KNZ)
  • Mark Losleben (NWT and USA-NPN)
  • John O'Keefe (HRF)
  • Dave Shaw (AND)
  • Kristin Vanderbilt (SEV)
  • Karen Wetherill (SEV)
  • Jess Zimmerman (LUQ)

The workshop produced three main products:

  1. An initial inventory of LTER phenology datasets
  2. A white paper summarizing the findings of the workshop
  3. The establishment of a website ( to facilitate information interchange.

The inventory and white paper can be found on the website.

Geoff Henebry, Mark Losleben, and Andy Bunn (Western Washington University) convened a special session on phenology at the Fall 2007 American Geophysical Union meeting entitled "Observing, Analyzing, and Modeling Phenologies at Multiple Scales". The session featured four presentations, one talk, and three poster presentations arising from the Sevilleta workshop:

  • Bradley B, K Wetherill, K Vanderbilt, and J Nickeson. 2007. Integrating ground observations of phenology with remotely sensed measurements: A 2007 growing season experiment at Sevilleta LTER. EOS Trans. AGU, 88(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract B53D-04.
  • Henebry, GM. 2007. Phenology across the LTER network: Initial findings, future directions. EOS Trans. AGU, 88(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract B51A- 0041.
  • Losleben MV. 2008. Phenology of Net Ecosystem Exchange: A simple estimation method. EOS Trans. AGU, 88(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract B51A-0040.
  • Shaw DC, C Creel, G Downing, S Remillard, and K O’Connell. 2007. Plant phenology patterns at three sites on the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon, 1987 to 2007. EOS Trans. AGU, 88(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract B51A- 0039.

We welcome your interest in phenology across LTER, as well as your comments and contributions to the website.


Leopold, A., and S.E. Jones. 1947. A phenological record for Sauk and Dane Counties, Wisconsin, 1935-1945. Ecological Monographs 17(1):81-122.

Geoff Henebry (, KNZ, Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence, South Dakota State University