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Editor's Picks

Quercus sontraensis
Quercus sontraensis grows in the Son Tra Peninsula
Roderick Cameron | Oct 19, 2022
Lobed leaf on Quercus rugosa
We know that some oaks, particularly Quercus robur, can...
Allen Coombes | Oct 18, 2022
Shaun Haddock receives an award for Eike Jablonski
Service awards recognize contributions to genus Quercus and...
Shaun Haddock | Oct 14, 2022

Plant Focus

Quercus tonduzii with acorn
An oak found only on a volcano in Costa Rica

Quercus Quest!

NPN logo

The USA National Phenology Network is launching the Quercus Quest Campaign to track flower and leaf phenology of oak trees across the eastern U.S. this year. The campaign is part of the National Science Foundation’s Dimensions of Biodiversity Bur Oak Project, led by researchers at The Morton Arboretum and others. The project depends on the participation of citizen scientists to record and share information about the phenology of Quercus alba, Q. macrocarpa, and their relatives. IOS members in the region under study are encouraged to participate, and everyone is welcome to attend Quercus Quest’s Kickoff Webinar on March 1 at 1 pm CST, hosted by the Research Team, which includes IOS members Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Andrew Hipp, Paul Manos, and Ian Pearse.

The world’s estimated 425 oak species exchange genes with their close relatives through hybridization. The Dimensions of Biodiversity Program Bur Oak Project is investigating how this exchange of genetic material allows oaks to adapt to new environments and how oaks then shape the populations of insect and fungal species that depend on them. Because hybridization depends on the timing of pollen movement between species, and because the fungi and insects that live on oaks respond to the timing of leaf and root production, phenology is key to understanding the complexities of oak ecosystems.

Quercus xfernowii
Flowering is one of the phenophases included in the Quercus Quest Campaign: the moment when one or more fresh open or unopened flowers or flower buds are visible on the plant. Quercus ×fernowii © Andrew Hipp 

Visit the Project’s webpage at https://usanpn.org/nn/quercusquest to see which species are being tracked and how you can participate.  An Observer Certification Course is available so you can learn to use Nature’s Notebook, the platform used for the project to track plant phenology (also available as an app, so you can use your smartphone to submit observations). See the video presentation below. As part of the course you will be provided with the basic information needed to understand plant life cycles and identify the plant phenophases included in the program.