Whiteknights Phenology


Phenology is the study of the timing of recurring natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate (Nature’s Calendar). In particular this involves the study of seasonal events within organisms annual cycles, including: flowering, leaf fall and egg laying.

Picture 1. Flowering is one phenophase commonly recorded.

Picture 1. Flowering is one phenophase commonly recorded.

Why study phenology?

By studying long term changes in phenological timing it is possible to consider the impact of climate change on organisms. In order to consider these potential climate impacts long term phenological data records are required. Finding consistent, long term records often proves problematic! One guideline is that phenological records should span 20 years or more before they should be considered for analysis (Tooke & Battey, 2010)

Whiteknights Phenology – University of Reading Phenological Monitoring Network (UoRPMN)


Due to the lack of long term phenological records and the growing interest in phenology and climate change impacts it was decided that a phenological monitoring network (UoRPMN) should be established within the University of Reading Whiteknights campus. The long term aim of this network is to collect phenological data on an annual basis, to enable analysis of potential climate change impacts within Whiteknights.

Data collection

Phenological records will be collected throughout the year. At present the main areas of recording have been: dragonflies/damselflies, newts, Beech, Oak and Horse chestnut. The aim is to expand future recording to include more species as interest in the network and resources grow. Data collection will be carried out primarily by students, including final year project students and through a third year autumn module (Plants, Animals and Climate Change).


Picture 2. Series of images taken of an Oak tree within the Harris Garden through the Autumn, showing leaf colouring.

Long term

The plan is that UoRPMN will become self-maintained over time by students (within the University), enabling it to survive and grow over the years to come,  with more and more species being recorded.  It is hoped that more people both within the University and the wider surrounding community will become engaged and interested in the ideas and understanding of phenology.


Nature’s Calendar http://www.naturescalendar.org.uk/

Tooke, F. and Battey, N.H. (2010) Temperate flowering phenology. Journal of Experimental Botany, 61 (11). pp. 2853-2862. ISSN 0022-0957 doi: 10.1093/jxb/erq165

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