The Woodland Trust and the British Science Association are asking people across the country to help them answer the question ‘how fast does spring move?’ by recording the first sightings of five different species across the country over the next three months.
The Trust’s Nature’s Calendar survey has been recording nature for 15 years to see how species respond to the changing climate from one year to the next. But the charity, with support from the British Science Association as part of British Science Week, which runs from 13-22 March, will now focus on the progression of spring from the South West of England to the North of Scotland.
The five species that people are being asked to record the first signs of are:
- Hawthorn first leaf and first flower (two separate events) – 6472_ScienceWeek_Hawthorn_v2 (PDF)
- Frogspawn – 6472_ScienceWeek_FrogSpawn_v2 (PDF)
- 7-spot ladybird – 6472_ScienceWeek_Ladybird_v2 (PDF)
- Oak first leaf – 6472_ScienceWeek_EnglishOak_v3 (PDF)
- Orange tip butterfly – 6472_ScienceWeek_OrangeTip_v2 (PDF)
Once recorded the data will be analysed by Professor Tim Sparks from Coventry University, a co-founder of Nature’s Calendar, to see how each species makes its appearance across the UK. By relating geographic location to spring timing the speed at which spring moves can be found.
Professor Sparks said: “In the past a modest amount of work was done to see how fast spring progressed. But I don’t know of any work on this in the UK during the last 70 years and an update and re-evaluation is long overdue.”
The data will enable the organisations to learn the direction of spring’s progress across the country, whether species react in different ways and even if its arrival speeds up or slows down as it moves up the country.
Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Woodland Trust Citizen Science Manager, said: “Trees, plants and wildlife are a great barometer for the arrival of our seasons, and the public can help us better understand these wonderful natural events. The more records we receive the greater accuracy we can track the speed of spring’s progress.”
Imran Khan, Chief Executive of the British Science Association said: “We are thrilled to be involved in Nature’s Calendar this year and are keen to encourage everyone, especially young people, to get involved in recording the first sightings of these species. We hope this opportunity to engage with a live science project will encourage people to think about the impact science has on our everyday lives and contribute to inspiring a whole new generation of potential scientists in the process.”
Nature’s Calendar is the longest written biological record of its kind, with information dating back to 1736. For more information on what to look for, how to record and downloadable resources go to http://www.naturescalendar.org.uk/bsw