• Lush vegetation on the top of Spectacle Island's North drumlin dominates the foreground. Boston's skyline can be seen in the distance.  The park's logo with tag line minutes away, worlds apart empashises the stark contrast between the city and islands.

    Boston Harbor Islands

    National Recreation Area Massachusetts

Phenology

Monarch butterfly on Lovells Island

Monarch butterfly on Lovells Island.

Pearl Lang

Understanding Phenology
For thousands of years, people have followed the rhythm of nature's cycles to inform and enrich their lives. Lengthening days, spring flowers, waves of insects, exploding seeds, turning leaves, and migrating birds were all signals to plant, forage, move, harvest, hunt, or celebrate. Today, scientists call the biological events that mark seasonal transitions "phenological events." Phenology is the study of the causes and consequences of the timing of biological phases.

 
Volunteers learn what to look for and how to record observations.

Volunteers learn how to record observations for an ongoing phenological study.

Aya Rothwell

Get Involved
At the Boston Harbor Islands volunteers are working with scientists to record observations of native plant and animal species over time. Over many years, these observations will help us understand how climate change affects the islands. As a volunteer, you will register a site, learn about several indicator plants and animals and their phenophases, make observations on multiple visits, and record them on "Nature's Notebook" online.

If you are interested in volunteering to help with the Phenology study, please register for a program on Stewardship Saturdays.

Did You Know?

Double-crested Cormorant Rests at Boston Harbor Islands

Shag Rocks in Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area offers roosting sites for cormorants and other seabirds that fish the surrounding waters. Better known in Britain as “shags,” cormorants gave this rocky outcropping its name. More...