Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Phenology Lecture

Today I managed to slip away and attend a lecture by Tim Sparks, probably the countries' (maybe Europes') leading expert on Phenology. His lecture was aimed at the concept 'is it a useful pastime or a scientific pursuit?' - possibly much in line with the volunteer relationship within the BTO.
On the one hand it can be a harmless, if nutty hobby, like the man who records the first and last time he cuts his lawn every year; to the scientific collection of data on a regular basis each and every year. To work in this field it was said you have to be one third mathematician and two thirds lunatic (or so the public perceive of many).
He presented examples right across taxa to illustrate his point, hinting at, but not really expanding on, the important facet of phenology - that of synchronisity. It's really not about whether this plant is flowering earlier and longer (although that is important), but whether the biodiversity that relies on this plant can adapt quickly enough to this change in order to survive.
He also introduced the phenology website at: http://www.naturescalendar.org.uk/ On this I managed to find sighting dates for swift and managed to compare them with the same time period from 2002. Interestingly in 2002 peak sightings were on 15th August, while in 2007 it was 7th Aug - interesting? What was apparent, from his talk not this graph, was that most bird sightings appear to be on a Saturday or Sunday. So, question, when do birds know its the weekend so that they can arrive to be counted by all those birdwatchers out for the weekend?


Blogger Stephen Menzie said...

Damn, knew there was something I forgot today! My afternoon lecture was (effectively) cancelled and I disappeared off home at midday...

7:55 PM  

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