Investigating Phenology with Project BudBurst

Investigating Phenology with Project BudBurst

The Project BudBurst FieldScope project is an interactive map for exploring data submitted by volunteers on phenology—the life cycle of plants throughout the year.


3 - 12+


Biology, Ecology, Experiential Learning

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Project BudBurst

Learning materials

Instructional Content

What comes to mind when you think of plants? Beautiful meadows of wildflowers? Stately oak trees providing shade on a summer afternoon? Tasty salads for lunch? Your thoughts on the role of plants in our lives will be expanded when you join Project BudBurst and discover the techniques scientists use to learn how plants can ‘tell’ us stories about our changing environments.

Project BudBurst is a network of volunteers across the United States who monitor plants by collecting important ecological data based on the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants, also known as plant phenophases. Project BudBurst volunteer participants make careful observations of these phenophases from plants in their communities, in their gardens and yards, and from their school campuses as the seasons change.

The data is collected in a consistent manner across the country, so scientists can use the data to learn more about the responsiveness of individual plant species to changes in climate locally, regionally, and nationally. Why are plants so important in understanding changing climates? Because plants are everywhere we live and they respond to changes in their environment such as variations in temperature, precipitation, and day length.

Project BudBurst is using FieldScope to visualize data collected through the project. Here are some ways you can get started with the Project BudBurst FieldScope maps:

  • Explore the Data Discovery map of volunteered observation data to compare Project BudBurst observations with other environmental data layers; filter the data to look at observation of a plant or plants you are interested in; or search for your home town, school, or city and see which plants participants are observing near you, then consider joining the project!
  • Explore the Seasonal Visualization map to see a time lapse animation of changing phenophases over the course of a year.
  • Explore the Species Comparison map and graph tool to compare phenophase timing for different plant species within different geographic locations.

Use the FieldScope 5 downloadable Activity Guides to explore further and answer the questions below.

Activity 1: Exploring Project BudBurst Observations

  • What types of Project BudBurst observations are near my location?

Activity 2: Is There a Relationship Between Temperature and Vegetation?

  • What types of plants are observed in locations with different surface temperatures?
  • Is there a relationship between land surface temperature and healthy vegetation?

Project BudBurst also offers resources for getting your classroom started with the program, including connections to science, geography, and Common Core ELA and Mathematics standards.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Anna Switzer, National Geographic Society
Sean P. O'Connor, BioBlitz Education Consultant
Sean P. O'Connor, BioBlitz Education Consultant
Last Updated

November 9, 2022

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Related Resources

National Science Foundation