Phenology? What is that? Glad you asked! Phenology is the study of the timing of cyclic or seasonal plant and animal life cycle events that are influenced by environmental conditions, including variations in weather and climate. This strange name is derived from the Greek words, phaino-which meants “to appear”, and logos, which means “to study.” this observation of phenological events called phenophases in nature has been going on for millenia! Even the earliest humans observed and planned their lives around the plant growing season and the presence of animals for hunting.  OK, so why is it important and why should I share it in my Desert Experience blog? Glad you asked…because it is nature’s biological clock, which is an integrated measurement of the interactions between the atmosphere and the Earth.

Why is Phenology valuable? It relates to human issues like agricultural production, health–yep, those annoying allergies, and vector-borne diseases-Valley Fever as we know it in the desert, as well as tourism. These patters also relate to environmental change due to altered climate and ecosystems. Phenology can be utilized in natural resource conservation and management.

And last but not least, what causes phenology? Three very important items:

  1. Photoperiod – this is what provides plant and animal species with consistent climatic signals. Actually, this is a lifeline for them!
  2. Temperature – it regulates growth and development patters of plant and animal species, and this heavily impacts humans and how they live.
  3. Moisture Availability – in the desert these words can mean life or death to desert inhabitants. Rain and snowfall is important because it affects the ability rate of cell division, i.e. leaves, or laying of eggs, especially for amphibians and water fowl.

Ok, are you not impressed by all this?!  You should be because it is these kinds of studies that help us maintain healthy living for all God’s creatures, including us “upright-walking-homo-sapiens!”  So, using this information and a Phenology Calendar, from  “The Geography of Phenology” (GEOG696C) in the Department of Geography and Regional Development at the University of Arizona, let’s look at the June Calendar … enjoy the education from U of A–it truly is a gift for all of us and we are thankful!!

JUNE in the Sonoran Desert_1

JUNE in the Sonoran Desert_2