Citizen science in mountain environments
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The observation of the seasonal phenomena of living beings helps us to understand growth and reproduction mechanisms, and the interactions between animals and plants.

Jardins de Talèfre - Observation de la flore avec Christophe Randin et Joël Didillon - © CREA Mont-Blanc

From a scientific point of view, studying the adaptation of plants and animals to the variations of their environment allows us to better comprehend the extent of the impact of climate change.

A long term endeavour

Interannual climate variability needs to be based on a series of data covering a sufficiently long enough period (at least 30 years) in order to detect a trend.

Although the mass of phenological data is quite significant, there are very few study sites where one possesses a continuous series of data for at least 30 years. The collection of phenological data is costly in terms of time and labour. The majority of research has therefore been limited to a few sites over a short duration. This lack of a large series of data is even more evident in mountain regions.

Remarkable chestnut tree: The Geneva chestnut tree has been observed for close to two centuries. The budding date has been recorded since 1808. A clear trend of premature budding has been observed since 1900.

Essential participation by the general public

Thanks to the participation of several volunteers, the Phenoclim programme acquires a long chronological series over a very large region at varied climates. Such a quantity of data could not be accumulated by a research programme carried out exclusively by scientific teams. Participatory science is an undeniable asset for large scale research studies.

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The scientific questions

Over the long term, how do species respond to climate changes?

How do species adapt each season to climate variations? – The climate

Faced with climate variations, does the same species react differently according to its location? – The altitude

Why do species react differently to the same climate variations? – The species