PhenObs is a global network of botanical gardens bringing together researchers, students and citizen scientists to learn more about the impacts of climate change on the phenology of herbaceous plant species.
PhenObs was established in 2017 by the botanical gardens of Jena, Halle, Berlin and Leipzig and is co-ordinated in Jena. We undertake coordinated, standardized phenological monitoring and measurements of plant functional traits. Because of their diverse collections of plants, botanical gardens represent ideal locations to carry out research across large numbers of species of diverse habitats.
Phenology is the timing of biological events, which in the case of plants includes leaf out, flowering, fruiting and senescence.
Phenology is especially sensitive to climate change and many plant species respond to increased temperatures by adapting the timing of phenological events. Several studies have reported shifts in spring phenology towards earlier days and shifts in autumn phenology towards later days in the year, resulting in an overall increase in growing season length. Climate-driven changes in phenology may affect biodiversity, ecosystem function, biotic interactions and ecosystems services in fundamental ways.
Our aim is to understand how biotic and abiotic changes do influence shifts in herbaceous species phenology.
Despite half of the plant species on Earth being herbaceous, we know very little about their phenology, as this research has mostly focused on woody species. PhenObs aims to improve our knowledge of the phenological responses of herbaceous species to the biotic and abiotic environment which will enable us to predict herbaceous phenology from species provenance, climatic requirements, phylogeny and plant traits.