Rocky Mountain National Park seeks citizen scientist help at Lily Lake

Lily Lake via Rocky Mountain National Park

From Rocky Mountain National Park via The Loveland Reporter-Herald:

The public can help Rocky Mountain National Park with scientific research when walking around Lily Lake.

“The Lily Lake Phenology Walk allows visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park an opportunity to collect scientific data and learn more about plant and animal species found within the park,” park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said in a press release.

Citizen scientists will help document seasonal biological events in the project.

“Over time, as observations are collected, the park will gain a better understanding of how plants and animals at Rocky Mountain National Park respond to environment changes,” Patterson stated.

Researchers will use the information to determine answers to questions such as: Has there been a shift in when willow shrubs begin to bud in the spring? Are aspen leaves changing color later or earlier than in the past?

The Lily Lake Phenology Walk webpage, which can be accessed by Lily Lake visitors through a smartphone or a tablet with an internet browser, gives descriptive images to help participants answer simple questions related to the timing of biological life cycle events of certain species found along the trail.

Patterson said doing the research may add only 20 minutes to a hike on the 0.8-mile trail that circles Lily Lake, and can be done by frequent or one-time visitors of all ages.

Phenology is the study of the timing of biological life cycle events and how climate and habitat influence them.

Patterson said it has been a topic of interest lately as people contemplate how species will react to a changing climate, adding the data gathered with the Lily Lake Phenology Walk can help determine if there are shifts in the phenology of the park’s species in this area.

Further information, including links to the questions page and previously submitted data, visit http://go.nps.gov/LilyLakeScience.

For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park, call 586-1206 or http://visit nps.gov/romo.

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