Question Sheet: Springing forward
- What natural events signal the beginning of spring?
- How reliable is the date at which these events occur each year?
- What do you think is responsible for the timing of when they occur?
- What do you think might happen if some of these events occurred sooner or
later than they traditionally have been? How might this affect the ecosystems
and their inhabitants?
- The timing of some spring events is changing. What do scientists think might
be responsible for the changes?
- What might happen if there is a change in the cycles of when certain plants
and animals emerge or mature?
- Why are scientists so interested in diaries from the mid-1800s belonging to
Henry David Thoreau?
- How might changing cycles of when plants and fungi emerge affect people?
- What is phenology? What are citizen scientists who belong to the National
Phenology Network doing?
- How serious do you think it is that natural environmental cycles are
changing? Is it a problem now or something to worry about only in the future?
Explain your answer.
- If you were to join the National Phenology Network, which elements of
wildlife would you like to watch and report on? Why?
- If global warming is behind the changes, what might people in your community
do to help slow that warming?
- Is there anything particularly special about changes occurring in spring?
Would you expect that changes in summer, fall or winter would have similarly
important impacts? Explain your answer.
- How might the changes that scientists have been observing affect farmers in
your region? (Hint: How are farms affected by temperatures, birds, insects and
other wildlife?) Give three examples of potential changes and describe why you
think each would be either good or bad for these farmers.
- What other industries or groups of professionals could be affected by major
changes in the timing of when animals and plants emerge and develop? (Hint: What
causes allergies? And consider people who must manage landscapes.)
- Some insects that can’t stand cold weather may be able to move further north
as climate warms. Think killer bees and fire ants. If they were to suddenly
establish colonies in a northern state – like Ohio –how might this affect the
economy and culture of towns in that state?
- Write three paragraphs about phenology and whether you think changing cycles
of plants’ and animals’ emergence are a curiosity or something to really worry
about. Explain your reasoning.
- Hold a classroom debate about whether the phenology changes that are being
witnessed around the world today are sufficient justification to spend money on
changing the types and amounts of energy that we use.