Core Site Phenology Study
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.