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What is Phenology?

Plants and animals respond to environmental cues such as temperature changes, amount of sunlight or day length or precipitation changes.

Phenology is the science of the synchronization or timing of natural events in the plant and animal world as they correspond either to the seasons or certain times of the year. 

Why are phenological observations important to the Menominee Nation?

The Menominee have used nature’s calendar for hundreds of years with many cultural practices, ceremonies and rituals centered around such phenological events as the change of seasons, ripening of berries, and bird/animal/fish migrations or spawning times. One example is that the harvest of black ash for basket making usually coincides with the ripening of wild strawberries.  A change in this phenological event has already been observed by the black ash bark harvesters as the ​

The Menominee have also named the monthly full-moon cycles after certain phenological events. For example, April is the Sugar Making Moon, May is the Budding Moon, June is the Strawberry Moon, August is the Blueberry Moon, September is the Rice Threshing Moon and October is the Falling Leaves Moon.

Learning Path

Learn more about the on-campus Learning Path and how you can get involved in collecting phenological data!

Common Phenology Terms

These and many more can be viewed in greater detail on the Nature's Notebook Glossary.

Phenology Plots

The College of Menominee Nation phenology plot project is the result of a collaboration with University of Minnesota and CMN. The purpose of this project is to monitor twelve indicator species plants with cultural significance to the tribe. Under the guide of the lead technician, students collect environmental data from plant sites including temperature and moisture. This data serves the larger purpose of informing climate change models and supporting the goals of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, as well as the broader scientific community.