plant phenology

Pollinator Monitoring Study in the Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands and Creosote Shrubland at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico (2000-present)

Abstract: 

This study is designed to look at community or population level fluctuations in bees over the
season and on a long term basis, over years. Funnel traps are a very low maintenance method of
trapping pollinators with zero human bias. The bias of the traps is that the color determines the
species and sexes that it attracts. Therefore the traps provide relative abundance that can be
compared over the season or year, but individual species cannot be compared within a season. This
study is designed to be compared with the data from SEV137 Phenology, to look at spatial and
temporal patterns within pollinator and flowering plant communities. Data is not available at this
time, but the species list is.

Core Areas: 

Data set ID: 

135

Keywords: 

Methods: 

Activating and collecting the traps

When the traps are activated, the worker need only a screwdriver to open the cans and a gallon of propylene glycol to fill the traps. After major rain events, the watered down glycol is collected for disposal and the trap is refilled with undiluted glycol.

To collect the specimens, the worker carries 10 small kitchen strainers, a pint size plastic cup and a hammer. The specimens are strained and the old antifreeze is placed back in the paint can. The funnel is left inside the cage with the closed paint can for the inactive period.

Back at the truck, the specimens are transferred into labelled vials with 70% ethyl alcohol and stored until they can be processed.

Lab Processing

In the lab, the specimens are rinsed of any left over glycol and pinned and labelled according to museum standards. All of 2001 specimens were pinned. In 2002, some of the more common species or species groups were not pinned, but were stored in alcohol with the non-target specimens.

Identifications

Identifications are done by Karen Wetherill (Sevilleta LTER) and Terry Griswold (USDA Bee Laboratory, Logan, Utah). Twenty specimens of each  species or morphotype are deposited in the Museum of Southwestern Biology (MSB) and 20 are deposited in the arthropod collection of the  Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research Station which is a permanent loan from the MSB. Some specimens were retained by the USDA Bee Laboratory in Logan, Utah. Host codes are Kartez Plant codes as listed on the USDA Plants Database.

Sampling design

One blue trap and one yellow trap were installed 10m north or 10m south of each phenology transect. The north or south location of each color of trap was decided by flipping a coin. The phenology transects are the north/south lines of each rodent trapping web and are 200m long. There are five rodent trapping webs at each of the three sites, totalling 30 traps, 15 of each color. One sample equals the sum of one yellow trap and one blue trap.

The traps consist of a 2 foot high chicken wire cage with a platform 1 1/2 feet off the ground. The cage prevents wildlife from disturbing  the traps. The trap itself rests on the platform and is made up of a one quart paint can with about an inch of propylene glycol and a yellow or blue automotive funnel with a heavy section of pipe glued around the spout to prevent the wind from blowing the funnel. The funnels have been sprayed with blue and yellow Krylon brand flourescent spray paint. The lid of the paint can is left in the cage to close the can when the trap is inactive.

The traps are activated in March every year and are left open for 14 days at which point the specimens are collected and the traps are closed for another 14 days. This cycle repeats itself through the month of October.

Maintenance: 

This file was created on Jan. 14, 2003 by Kristin Vanderbilt.

This study began in February of 2001. The first year is to be considered a pilot study as the methods changed for 2002. In the first year, pan traps were used. These were replaced by funnel traps for the year 2002.

This file was updated by Karen Wetherill on March 10, 2004 and again on December 7, 2005 and again on July 9, 2008.

Quality Assurance: 

All identifications were verified at the USDA Bee Laboratories in Logan, Utah with the help of Dr. Terry Griswold.

Additional information: 

Information on data collection

In 2001, the samples were collected once a month, during the same time as the phenology data. Yellow pan traps were put out for 48 hours (or shorter due to evaporation). In 2002, after the traps were replaced with funnel traps which use antifreeze rather than water, the traps were left open for two weeks and then closed for two weeks from February through October.

In August 2002, the traps were accidentally closed one week early and then reset for an additional week (August 30th to September 6th) so these samples will be more like the September samples than they are like the July samples.

In 2004 the February collection was not taken.

Additional Study Area Information

Study Area 1

Study Area Name: Blue Grama Core Site

Study Area Location: The Blue Grama Core Site is one of 5 current core SEVLTER study sites. Core studies include meteorology, rodent abundance, pollinator diversity, monthly phenology, and NPP. Additional studies have examined the Bootleg Canyon fire of 1998 and grass patch dynamics.

Elevation: 1670 m

Vegetation: Vegetation is characterized as Plains-Mesa Grassland, dominated by blue and black gramma (Bouteloua gracilis & B. eriopoda) and galleta grass (Hilaria jamesii)

North Coordinate:34.3348
South Coordinate:34.3348
East Coordinate:106.631
West Coordinate:106.631

Study Area 2

Study Area Name: Five Points Creosote Core Site

Study Area Location: Five Points is the general area which emcompasses the Black Grama Grassland (known as Five Points Grassland) and Creosote Core (Five Points Larrea) study sites and the transition between Chihuahuan Desert Scrub and Desert Grassland habitats. Both core sites are subject to intensive research activities, including measurements of NPP, phenology, pollinator diversity, and ground dwelling arthropod and rodent populations. There are drought rain-out shelters in both the Grassland and Creosote sites, as well as another set in the mixed ecotone with co-located ET Towers. The grassland Small Mammal Exclosure Study is located here, as well as many plots related to patch mapping and biotic transitions.

Elevation: 1615 m

Vegetation: The Creosote Core site is characterized as Chihuahuan Desert Scrub, dominated by a creosotebush overstory, with broom snakeweed, purple pricklypear (O. macrocentra) and soapweed yucca as notable shrubs. The site is also characterized by numerous, dense grass dominated patches, reflecting proximity to the Black Grama Core site and the presumably recent appearance of creosotebush. Dominant grasses were black grama, fluffgrass (Dasyochloa pulchellum), burrograss (Scleropogon brevifolia), bushmuhly (M. porteri), and galleta (Pleuraphis jamesii). Notable forb species included field bahia (Bahia absinthifolia), baby aster (Chaetopappa ericoides), plains hiddenflower, Indian rushpea (Hoffmannseggia glauca), Fendler’s bladderpod (Lesquerella fendleri), and globemallow.

North Coordinate:34.3331
South Coordinate:34.3331
East Coordinate:106.736
West Coordinate:106.736

Study Area 3

Study Area Name: Five Points Grass Core Site

Study Area Location: Five Points is the general area which emcompasses the Black Grama Grassland (known as Five Points Grassland) and Creosote Core (Five Points Larrea) study sites and the transition between Chihuahuan Desert Scrub and Desert Grassland habitats. Both core sites are subject to intensive research activities, including measurements of NPP, phenology, pollinator diversity, and ground dwelling arthropod and rodent populations. There are drought rain-out shelters in both the Grassland and Creosote sites, as well as another set in the mixed ecotone with co-located ET Towers. The grassland Small Mammal Exclosure Study is located here, as well as many plots related to patch mapping and biotic transitions.

Elevation: 1616 m

Vegetation: Desert Grassland habitat is ecotonal in nature and the Black Grama Core site is no exception, bordering Chihuahuan Desert Scrub at its southern boundary and Plains-Mesa Grassland at its northern, more mesic boundary. There is also a significant presence of shrubs, dominantly broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), along with less abundant fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), Mormon tea (Ephedra torreyana), winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata), tree cholla (Opuntia imbricata), club cholla (O. clavata), desert pricklypear (O. phaeacantha), soapweed yucca (Yucca glauca), and what are presumed to be encroaching, yet sparsely distributed, creosotebush (Larrea tridentata). Characteristically, the dominant grass was black grama (Bouteloua eriopoda). Spike,  sand, and mesa dropseed grasses (Sporobolus contractus, S. cryptandrus, S. flexuosus) and sand muhly (Muhlenbergia arenicola) could be considered co-dominant throughout, along with blue grama  (B. gracilis) in a more mesic, shallow swale on the site. Notable forb species included trailing four o’clock (Allionia incarnata), horn loco milkvetch (Astragalus missouriensis), sawtooth spurge  (Chamaesyce serrula), plains hiddenflower (Cryptantha crassisepala), blunt tansymustard (Descarania obtusa), wooly plaintain (Plantago patagonica), globemallow (Sphaeralcea wrightii), and mouse ear (Tidestromia lanuginosa).

North Coordinate:34.3381
South Coordinate:34.3381
East Coordinate:106.717
West Coordinate:106.717

Ground-Truthing Satellite Imagery with Phenological Observations: Visual Observations from Grasslands at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico (2007-2008)

Abstract: 

Phenology is the study of recurring natural phenomena. The seasonal "greening-up" and "greening-down" of dominant vegetation can be used as a predictor for a variety of processes and variables at local to global scales. The use of satellites to monitor land surface phenology is important for understanding local and regional ecosystem variability, identifying change over time, and potentially predicting ecosystem response to short and long-term changes in climate. However, the relationship between how phenology is expressed on the ground and how it is interpreted from satellites is poorly understood because phenological stages do not always correspond well to changes in spectral reflectance. In this study, we explored the relationship between greenness as measured by digital camera, the human eye, and ASTER imagery in two perennial grasslands at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico.

Core Areas: 

Data set ID: 

214

Additional Project roles: 

176
177

Keywords: 

Data sources: 

sev214_remotesensing_06252009

Methods: 

Visual observations: While facing south, a "niner" (i.e., a 30 cm x 30 cm frame partioned into nine squares, each equal to an area of 1% of 1m2) was placed with one corner at a pinflag to the north and the other at a pinflag to the south. Four substrates were measured: bare Soil (S), brown vegetation (B), green vegetation (G), and green forbs (F).

The total cover of substrates at a sampling location equalled 9% (i.e., the entire niner). If the substrate had < 0.25% cover, T (i.e., trace) was recorded. If the cover of a substrate was > 0.25% it was rounded up to 1. If a substrate did not exist at a location, a zero was recorded

Time of day: The date/time stamp on a digital camera was used so that date/time was recorded on each photo.

Plot layout: Two sites were chosen to represent semi-arid grasslands. Site B was dominated by blue grama and site G by black grama. At each site six plots were established. Each plot was comprised of twelve quadrats that measured 50 X 50 cm for digital photographs and 30 X 30 cm for visual observations in a 3 X 4 grid.

Digital images: A 50 X 50 cm pvc frame was used to delineate area. Laminated markers placed next to the frame denoted the plot and quadrat number. A camera was held directly over a quadrat to get the entire PVC frame in the picture. Every effort was made to minimize shadow.

Maintenance: 

All data was checked for errors. Both years were combined and put online. 6/25/09, KRW.

Additional information: 

Data Collection Period:

5/3/2007, 7/2/2007, 7/16/2007, 7/31/2007, 8/17/2007, 9/4/2007, 9/18/2007, 10/4/2007, 4/14/2008, 5/30/2008, 8/4/2008, 8/19/2008, 9/5/2008, 9/22/2008, and 10/6/2008.

Ocotillo Plant Dimensions in the Chihuahuan Desert at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico (1991)

Abstract: 

This study looks at Ocotillo (Fouqieria splendens) at the northern extent of its range in New Mexico. Gross morphological and phenological measurements are made in the field and leaves are collected for isozyme work. Questions that this study may address are: Do individuals at range edges show reduced genetic diversity relative to individuals in the heart of the range? Do population age structures(Can we age them?) differ at edges. Can we, in time, determine stasis or movement of populations? Are demographics germane to the study questions? What other methods, in addition to isozyme work will we use to get at the relative genetics of these populations?

Core Areas: 

Data set ID: 

54

Additional Project roles: 

165
166
167
168

Keywords: 

Data sources: 

sev054_ocotillodimensions_09082011.txt

Methods: 

Five hundred ocotillo individuals were tagged and measured in the ways described below. The plants follow the south-facing slopes of a ridgeline near the southern boundry of the Sevilleta. The plants were marked starting at the easternmost population and numbered consecutively as one moves west along the ridge.

DESCRIPTION OF EACH MEASUREMENT

1] PLANT# - this is the number on the tag attached to the plant.

2] POP# - Represents the population number which is simply which group of plants encountered. Each population is separated by an area along the ridge that does not have ocotillo growing on it.

3] PHENOLOGY - Phenology is measured by circling one of the following codes for each plant. If the code was circled on the data sheet it is given a value of "y" in the data base, if not circled, the value is "n" in the data base.

  • St = Stems only (i.e. plant is alive but no leaves or reproductive structures are present)
  • B = Flower Buds - Flower buds are present.
  • Fl = Flowers - Flowers are present.
  • Fr = Fruit - Fruit is present. Fruit is considered   to be present when the ovary has expanded and the perianth has senesced.
  • L = Leaves - Leaves are present.
  • D = Senescence/Plant is dying(Plant has dead stems attached.)

4] #/STEM - this measurement is the number of stems Son the plant at the highest order of branching, i.e. if a stem branches near the base and each of those two stems branch once then a person counts four stems, the first branching does not matter in the count.

5] #/FLOWERING STEMS - simply the number of stems with reproductive structures, counted as above.

6] HSTEM - this is the longest stem measured from the base to the apical tip of the stem.

7] NOTES - any comments or qualifiers that need to be made. Notes are put in curly brackets '{}' on the next line.

Maintenance: 

File initiated 11 Jun 1991. Data entered by 3 Nov 1992 by Rupal Shah Errors changed on 5 Nov 1992 by Rupal Shah More Errors corrected on 9 Nov 1992 by Rupal Shah 8 Feb 1993 - Added a date to documentation from data sheets recently found by Rupal Shah - Troy Maddux. 11/12/98 - Added final line of "END OF DATA" to dataset. K. Taugher - Aligned columns to right justification. K. Taugher doc

Additional information: 

Additional Information on the personnel associated with the Data Collection / Data Processing

 The data were collected by the 1991 plant crew: Troy Maddux (Head Plant Technician), Sam Loftin (Plant Research Assistant), Joran Viers, (Plant Technician), Kathleen McGee (Plant Technician).

Core Site Phenology Study from the Chihuahaun Desert Grassland and Shrubland at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico (2000- present)

Abstract: 

Plant phenology or life-history pattern changes seasonally as plants grow, mature, flower, and produce fruit and seeds. Plant phenology follows seasonal patterns, yet annual variation may occur due to annual differences in the timing of rainfall and ambient temperature shifts. Foliage growth and fruit and seed production are important aspects of plant population dynamics and food resource availability for animals. The purpose of this study is to assess plant phenology patterns across a series of biotic communities that represent an environmental moisture gradient. These communites include: Chihuhuan Desert creosotebush shrubland, Chihuahuan Desert black grama grassland, and blue grama grassland. Plant phenology is recorded for all plant species across 4 replicate 200 m transects at each of the 3 habitat sites. Plant phenology measurements are taken once every month from February through October. The first ten individuals of each plant species encountered along each transect are assessed for life-history status. Data recorded include the status of leaves, flowers and fruit. Leaves are recorded as new, old, brown or absent. Reproductive status is recorded as absent, buds, flowers, fruits or both fruits and flowers. Data from the site P and J were only collected in 2000 and 2001 and are included in this data set.

Core Areas: 

Additional Project roles: 

271
272
273
274

Data set ID: 

137

Keywords: 

Purpose: 

The purpose of this study is to assess plant phenology patterns across a series of biotic communities that represent an environmental moisture gradient.

Data sources: 

sev137_phenologycore_20170203.csv

Methods: 

Locating the Transects:

Phenological conditions are recorded along four permanently marked 200 m x 2 m wide transects at each of the core study sites. The transects are located within four of the five rodent trapping webs. All five transects were originally measured, but in 2003 the least diverse transect at each site was dropped. Each web consists of twelve 100 m transects radiating as spokes from a central rebar stake marked #145. As measured from the center stake, the first four stakes within a ray are positioned at 5 m intervals and the remaining eight at 10 m intervals along a given transect. Plant phenology is recorded along two of these 100 m transects, the transect that extends due north from the central stake and the transect that extends due south from the central stake. The stakes that extend due north are marked 1-12 where stake #1 is closest to the center stake. The stakes that extend due south are marked 73-84 where stake #73 is closest to center. 

Collecting the Data:

Each transect is sampled by one technician. Measurements are started from the northern (stake #12) end of each transect. The technician walks in a straight line from one stake to the next surveying a 1 m wide area on each side of the line until the opposite end of the transect is reached. As a transect is walked, phenological conditions are recorded for each species that occurs along the transect. The phenological condition of the first 10 individuals of each species is recorded. After the conditions of ten individuals have been recorded no more observations are made for that particular species even though more may be encountered. Conversely, for rare species only a few individuals may be encountered so there will be less than 10 observations.

Because measurements are taken on separate individuals, it is important to note that many plants have clonal growth forms. This can be seen in some grasses that occur as a clump of overlapping vegetation. In this case each clump is treated as a single individual. This is also true for some cactus and yucca species that appear as a cluster of many individual heads.

Determining Phenological Conditions:

1. New green foliage (N)

This category refers to a plant that is producing new vegetative tissue. The production of new vegetative tissue can be characterized in several ways depending on the species. In many herbaceous plants, new vegetative growth will be indicated by the presence of immature leaves or stems. In herbaceous plants this growth generally appears near the tips of shoots and also at axillary buds.

For species that have a rosette growth form (yucca, some herbaceous plants), the center of the rosette is examined for the presence of immature leaves.

In cacti, the spines are modified leaves and do not readily indicate new vegetative growth so cacti are examined for production of new stems. For example, in Opuntia spp., the presence of a new stem/pad represents new green foliage as each stem-joint represents a season's growth. Cacti that exhibit a cylindrical growth form are more difficult to classify. Cacti with tuberculate stems (Mammilaria spp.) are examined for new tubercules which can often be seen in the center of the head. More problematic are the ribbed cacti where the growth of one season is continuous with that of the preceding season.  While these species may be producing new growth it is extremely difficult to identify and thus they are usually categorized as old green foliage.

2. Old green foliage (O)

This category refers to a plant that is not producing new vegetative tissue but exhibits only mature green foliage.  

3. Brown leaves (B)

This category refers to a plant that has only brown leaves and is used to indicate a period of senescence or decline.  

4. No leaves (Z)

This category is similar to the above category.  It is meant to capture a period of senescence or decline and refers to a plant that has subsequently dropped its leaves. It only applies to growth forms that drop their leaves during a period of dormancy or senescence. This category is not used for plants such as Ephedra spp. that normally do not have leaves.

Determining Phenological Conditions:

1. New flowers (FL)

This category refers to the presence of flowers at anthesis (open flowers). For many species the petals are large and showy making this condition easy to identify. In species with small or reduced flowers, this condition represents the presence of key reproductive structures such as stamens and/or carpels.   

2. New fruit (FR)

This category refers to the presence of a ripened ovary that contains seed. Open fruits that do not contain seed are not categorized as fruiting.  Open fruits that do contain seed belong in this category.               

3. Fruits and Flowers (FF)

This category indicates that both fruit and flowers are present.

4. No Fruits or Flowers (Z)

This category indicates that neither fruits or flowers are present.

5. Flower buds (B)

This category indicates that only closed flower buds are present.

QAQC: 

Each month, the data is QAQCd for typos and incorrect plant codes. To do this in Excel, place the cursor in the first cell of the actual data, not the headings. Go to Data/Filter and select auto filter. Each list formed should fit the parameters listed above. The plant list and the unknown plant list should be updated regularly. Check all errors against the paper data. Be sure that the numbers at the end of the kartez codes are correct. In most cases, all errors can be fixed at this time.

At the end of every year, compile all the data into one file for the year. Check to make sure no data is missing or duplicated. Also, each year, all the previous years data should be updated using the unknown plant list to replace former unknowns with their proper kartez code. At this point all compiled, yearly data sets should be re-archived, replacing the old data sets. Meta data should be maintained with every data set.

Recording the Data:

For each transect, the following is recorded:   

1. Recorder- Recorder's initials and also the initials of anyone helping take measurements on that particular transect.  

2. The date (month, day, year)  

3. The site (B, G, C, J, P)

B = Blue grama grassland

G = Five-Points grassland

C = Five-Points creosote

J = Juniper Savanna

P = Pinon-Juniper woodland 

4. The web (1,2,3,4,5) 

5. The page number (1/3, 2/3, 3/3)

The species code for all the species occurring along the transect is recorded. Then the phenological conditions of the individual plants in the area are recorded in the Fol and Flw columns of the data sheet. The Fol column is for status codes reflecting the condition of a plant's foliage and the Flw column is for codes reflecting the reproductive status of the plant. The status codes are as follows:

Foliage codes:

N = new green foliage

O = old green foliage only

B = brown leaves only

Z = no leaves

Reproductive codes:

FL = new flower

FR = new fruits

FF = new fruits and flowers

Z = no fruits or flowers

B  = Only buds present

BFL = Buds and flowers

BFR = Buds and fruits

Instrumentation: 

The phenology data is taken with paper and pencil.

Maintenance: 

12/2/2008

For both 2007 and 2008, individual monthly files were checked for errors and compiled in pc_field/phenology. These were uploaded into navicat. Then all the data was exported and put on line with this updated meta data and EML.

2/8/2007

Phenology data from 2001-2006 was taken out of flat files and imported into MySQL. Once in the database, I checked for duplicates. These most often happened when a recorder had already taken data for a particular species and accidentally started a new row for data for that species. In these instances, no data was deleted, but the observation numbers were made consecutive. Therefore, they end up with more than 10 observations per web. In no case was this more than 20. The other reason I found duplicates was in years where certain recorders collected separate data for seedlings and adults. In these cases, no data was thrown away and againg the observation number was made consecutive and there also can be up to 20 observations per web for these species. Always in this case the comment "SEEDLING" was added to the relevant observations. I also checked every plant code against the USDA Plants database online at http://plants.usda.gov/ All plant codes that have had nomenclature changes were updated. All previously unknown plants that have since been identified were also updated. All unknown plants that will never be identified were dropped from the database. All typos were corrected. The original code was stored in the database under the collumn title OLD_SPECIES, but is not available online.

Quality Assurance: 

QAQC: 

Each month, the data should be QAQCd for typos and incorrect plant codes. To do this in Excel, place the cursor in the first cell of the actual data, not the headings. Go to Data/Filter and select auto filter. Each list formed should fit the parameters listed above. The plant list and the unknown plant list should be updated regularly. Check all errors against the paper data. Be sure that the numbers at the end of the kartez codes are correct. In most cases, all errors can be fixed at this time.At the end of every year, compile all the data into one file for the year. Check to make sure no data is missing or duplicated. Also, each year, all the previous years data should be updated using the unknown plant list to replace former unknowns with their proper kartez code. At this point all compiled, yearly data sets should be re-archived, replacing the old data sets. Meta data should be maintained with every data set.

Additional information: 

Additional Information on the personnel associated with the Data Collection / Data Processing

Sevilleta Field Crew Employee History

Chandra Tucker (CAT; 04/2014-present), Megan McClung (MAM; 04/2013-present), Stephanie Baker (SRB; 10/2010-present), John Mulhouse (JMM; 08/2009-06/2013), Amaris Swann (ALS;  08/2008-01/2013), Maya Kapoor, August 9, 2003-January 21, 2005 and April 2010-March 2011, Terri Koontz, February 2000-August 2003 and August 2006-August 2010, Yang Xia, January 31, 2005-April 2009, Karen Wetherill, February 7, 2000-August 2009, Michell Thomey, September 3, 2005-August 2008, Jay McLeod, January 2006-August 2006, Charity Hall, January 31, 2005-January 3, 2006, Tessa Edelen, August 15, 2004-August 15, 2005, Seth Munson, September 9, 2002-June 2004, Caleb Hickman, September 9, 2002-November 15, 2004, Heather Simpson, August 2000-August 2002, Chris Roberts, September 2001-August 2002, Mike Friggens, 1999-September 2001, Shana Penington, February 2000-August 2000.

Dates of collection for each field site:

Site B:  April 2001 - present

Site C:  April 2000 - present

Site G:  April 2000 - present

Site J:  April 2000 - November 2001

Site P:  April 2000 - November 2001

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