Led by Chantal Helm & Peter Atkinson

At Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG), we are interested in recording the seasonal changes of the plants in our collection. By recording seasonal changes, we can better understand the annual cycle of plants, and any long-term effects of climate change. In late 2020, a group of volunteers began a pilot phenology project, collecting data on a small number of trees in the Garden.

Funding from the Collections Connections Communities SRI has enabled CUBG to expand the project and achieve three main outcomes:

  1. Production of valuable data – we have weekly measurements from 58 different plant species from first leaf bud burst in spring through to leaf loss in autumn. This data is being used to contribute to the UK-wide Nature’s calendar project, and forms the basis of future measures to assess any effects of climate change on our plants in the Botanic Garden.
  2. Participatory research and citizen science – we now have a team of 12-15 public volunteers who come to the garden each week to record seasonal changes in our plants. They range from University students, to garden volunteers, friends and visitors who have heard of the project and have joined in!
  3. Public engagement – we are showcasing the project to visitors to the Garden, at open days and though permanent information boards. This year we plan to disseminate our project and initial findings to local natural history groups and Wildlife Trusts through posters, talks and an article in the Nature in Cambridgeshire journal.

There is enthusiasm to continue to develop the phenology project at CUBG, to have data collection over the years to come, and to educate and enthuse volunteers and visitors to the garden to take notice of the seasonal changes in trees and plants, towards their protection from future climate change.


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