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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events for the Week of December 12th

Is holiday shopping, cooking, and preparing making you say "Bah-Humbug" more than "Happy Holidays!"?  Take a break from all the running around and head outside to get a breath of fresh air. Even though the temperature is dropping there are still things to do and see.

Here are some of the events happening at refuges across the country this week, some in the spirit of the season.  Check out this link for more events happening in December on our refuges.

As always, make sure you head over to the Refuge System's homepage and use their searchable map to find events at a Wildlife Refuge near you.

Let's go outside!

SnowshoeingGuests snowshoe at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge in the Mountain-Praire Region, Photo: Jennifer Jewett

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Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events for the Week of December 5th

It's the holiday season on our refuges! Here are some of the events happening at refuges across the country this week, many in the spirit of the season.  Check out this link for more events happening in December on our refuges.

As always, make sure you head over to the Refuge System's homepage and use their searchable map to find events at a Wildlife Refuge near you!

Let's go outside!

Sleigh Passing Elk HerdSleigh passing elk herd Photo: Lori Iverson/USFWS

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Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events for the Week of November 28th

The weather may be getting colder, but that doesn't mean there isn't anything to do outside! Here are some of the events happening at refuges across the country this week.  As always, make sure you head over to the Refuge System's homepage and use their searchable map to find a Wildlife Refuge near you!

Let's go outside!

First Snow at SunsetThe season's first snow at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, ND on Nov. 7, 2011

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Massachusetts: Changes at Walden Pond

A meadow with yellow flowers

Adaptation iconLocation: Concord, Massachusetts
Size: over 3,800 acres
Open to the public: Yes 
Related Websites:
U.S.A. National Phenology Network

Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
USA National Phenology Network           
Project BudBurst
Climate Change Threat: Warming temperatures, invasive species
Contacts: Terri Edwards, USFWS Public Affairs, (413) 253-8324 

Photo at left: A field of native flowers, Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia. Credit: USFWS.

Massachusetts: Changes at Walden Pond

by Frank Wolff

“It is astonishing how soon and unexpectedly flowers appear, when the fields are scarcely tinged with green. Yesterday, for instance, you observed only the radical leaves of some plants; to-day you pluck a flower.”  -- Henry David Thoreau

Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is located in Concord, Massachusetts. The area was home to a dedicated naturalist in the mid-1800s. He built himself a house on 14 acres of woods on the bank of Walden Pond. He dutifully and diligently recorded the flowering times of hundreds of plants as well as the behavior of rabbits, red squirrels, mice, birds and other animals for six years.

A photo of Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau, 1856

Credit: Photo courtesy of The Thoreau Society Collection at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods

His name was Henry David Thoreau.

Thoreau provided an extensive array of data that has proven invaluable as a baseline for phenological research that continues today. Phenology is the study of events in nature that are influenced by climate and seasonal change.

A study conducted by Abraham J. Miller-Rushing and Richard B. Primack found that climate change is causing many plants to flower much earlier today than they did in the past. The two researchers used Thoreau’s observations, as well as the work of Alfred Hosmer, another naturalist who studied the ecosystem around Concord, as a comparison to their own modern-day observations. Their research concludes that in Concord, plants are now flowering seven days earlier on average than they did in Thoreau’s time.

But not all plants are equally impacted by climate changes. Some species have the ability to track seasonal temperature change and will flower earlier when temperatures are warmer. Other species don’t track temperatures as well, and will continue to flower at the same time every year—regardless of temperature variations. The ones that don’t track temperatures as well are more likely to suffer a decline in numbers; they also tend to be related to one another, so entire plant families are impacted.

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