PlantWatch, part of the suite of NatureWatch programs, is a Canada-wide network of volunteers who record the blooming times for common plant species in their province. Information collected by PlantWatchers is a valuable tool to track how and at what rate climate change is taking place across the nation.
The PlantWatch program enables "community scientists" to get involved by recording flowering times for selected plant species and reporting these dates to researchers through the Internet or by mail.
Which plants are tracked by PlantWatch?
PlantWatch Saskatchewan tracks eighteen common native plants as well as two common non-native plants (Dandelion and Common Purple Lilac). All of these "indicator" plants are useful in spring phenology (the study of the seasonal timing of life cycle events) studies because they are perennial, easy to identify, broadly distributed and only bloom for a short time period.
Species to watch are: (click on the plant name to link to the National PlantWatch Web Site):
How can watching plants help us learn more about climate change?
All of the plants that PlantWatch tracks tend to flower as they accumulate heat (or warm up to a certain point). This means that following warmer winters and springs they flower earlier than they would otherwise. Current climate change models predict that annual temperatures will increase in Western and Northern Canada while actually cooling in parts of Eastern Canada. By comparing current records with past records, researchers have observed that some plants in Western Canada are flowering nearly a month earlier than they did a century ago! By participating in PlantWatch you will help us better understand how common plants are responding to climate change as well as where and at what rate our climate is changing.
What kinds of activities does Plantwatch do in Saskatchewan?
PlantWatch Saskatchewan coordinates volunteer activities within the province. If you wish to submit your observations in paper form, you can send them to the Nature Saskatchewan office. We also publish and distribute an annual newsletter filled with PlantWatch news as well as interesting articles on plants and climate change.
There is ample documentation that the climate change we are experiencing is due in part to the increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. PlantWatch aims to inform the public of the effects of climate change and the simple actions we can take to reduce GHG emissions in our everyday lives.
Can I be a community scientist?
Anyone who is interested in learning more about plants can become a PlantWatch participant. PlantWatching is a fun activity for families, classrooms, naturalists, youth organizations and outdoors groups or anyone who just enjoys flowers and can't wait to get outdoors in the springtime!
Anyone regardless of age, skill level or location can be a "citizen scientist". All you have to do is select a plant or plants that grow in your area, find it in your community and start recording. Every observation counts… reporting even one flowering date for one plant is a great contribution!
To register, free of charge, as a PlantWatch Saskatchewan participant, or receive information on the program, either call us toll-free in Saskatchewan at 1-800-667-4668, at 780-9481 in Regina, or send an email to Lacey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and mailing address in the body of the message.
Plantwatch Saskatchewan current resources