Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park said it is currently recruiting local volunteers to 'Adopt-A-Plot' and track the seasonal change of trees.
People who visit the Smokies often are encouraged to sign up to adopt a plot of trees near the roadside at Kanati Fork, Newfound Gap, Kuwohi (Dome Rd.), and other locations in the park, according to a release.
Interested volunteers can attend a virtual orientation session on March 11 from 10 a.m. to noon EST, and later field site orientations will follow, according to the park.
Officials said volunteers can sign up to visit their “adopted” study plot weekly, and less during summer months, to monitor trees from the first bud in spring to the last leaf drop in fall. Volunteers will monitor when trees develop buds, leaf out, produce flowers and fruit, and when leaves change color.
Data collected by volunteers will be used in collective park-wide research to interpret how changing climate and length of day affect when seasonal changes occur, according to GSMNP.
Researchers are noticing seasonal and annual shifts of the timing of phenophases, the stages of the life cycles of trees in the park, according to officials. Early or late phenophases can affect entire forest ecosystems because all organisms are interconnected in the food web and depend on trees to survive.
Interested volunteers are asked to email Angel Chaffin at email@example.com to register for the virtual phenology orientation. More information about phenology research efforts across the country is available online.