May 2023 Newsletter

the power of PLACE

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a [silver] sixpence in her shoe.”

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a [silver] sixpence in her shoe.”

You will have to bear with me to see how I connect the dots. But oddly enough this traditional wedding rhyme captures RMBL’s Science Strategy.

First, the old.

It’s great to see the exposure that the RMBL Phenology Project is receiving in the April edition of National Geographic. Beautiful photos and great writing, the article puts a well-deserved focus on long-term research. Initially the project provided a way to look closely at wildflowers. However, with increasing interest in climate change, the study provides one of the most comprehensive looks at ecological change. Started in 1973 by Dr. David Inouye (see adjoining article) the project has accumulated millions of observations and has grown from a focus on plant flowering times to include roots, climate, animal arrival data, and bees.

Ian Billick - Director RMBL

Ian Billick | PhD
Executive Director, RMBL


Dr. David Inouye

Seasons speeding

Many of us humans complain about the disruption of daylight saving time, yet somehow we adapt. Imagine the clock shifting enough to throw whole seasons off by weeks or more. If all the species in nature set their clocks to synchronize with the new schedule, it might not be a problem. But they don’t. Seasons are clearly shifting. However, “Species are not responding identically,” says Dr. David Inouye in a recent National Geographic article featuring his 50-year phenology study at RMBL.

 When Dr. Inouye and other RMBL participants started the phenology research (the study of life cycle events) in the early 1970s, climate change was not on the radar, even in the scientific community. Over half a century later, his work continues to garner more attention and publicity both in scientific and layman circles. In the context of climate change, it has become recognized by a broad audience as critically important.

 Climate change itself has steadily become more evident to the general public, says Dr. Inouye. Anyone who’s spending time outdoors — gardeners, anglers, recreationists — can see that nature is changing. Thanks to Dr. Inouye’s over 50-year data set, the changes regular people can’t miss are backed up by science.