The term phenology is derived from the Greek work “phaino,” meaning to show or appear.
Phenology is the study of the reoccurring life cycle stages of plants and animals, such as bud break, leaf-out, hibernation, bird migrations and insect emergence. Phenology also includes the study of how the timing of these events relate to biotic and abiotic forces, such as weather and climate.
It is important that we understand how plants and animals are responding to their environments under changing climatic regimes. Tracking trends in seasonal changes may help resource managers identify vulnerable species, predict shifts in species ranges and identify potential areas of species refugia.
Studying these responses and timing may also give insight as to how our climate and ecological systems may be changing in both the long term and the short term. Because phenology is so sensitive to environmental variation and change, and because it is linked to most aspects of ecosystem processes, it is considered the leading indicator of climate change impacts on people and ecosystems by the Environmental Protection Agency.