Home > Education > PlantWatch March 30, 2008


What is PlantWatch?

PlantWatch is a Canada-wide network of volunteers who record the blooming times for common plant species in their province. Information collected by PlantWatchers is a valuable tool used by the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN) and the Nature Canada (formerly Canadian Nature Federation) to track how and at what rate climate change is taking place across the nation.

PlantWatch program enables "citizen scientists" to get involved by recording flowering times for selected plant species and reporting these dates to researchers through the Internet or by mail.

For more information please read the Saskatchewan Plant Watch Brochure

Which Plants are tracked in Saskatchewan?

Saskatchewan PlantWatch tracks eighteen common native plants as well as two common non-native plants (Dandelion and Common Purple Lilac). All of these "indicator" plants are useful in spring phenology (the study of the seasonal timing of life cycle events) studies because they are perennial, easy to identify, broadly distributed and only bloom for a short time period.

Species to watch are: (click on the plant name to link to the National PlantWatch Web Site)

How can watching plants help us learn more about climate change?

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All of the plants that PlantWatch tracks tend to flower as they accumulate heat (or warm up to a certain point). This means that following warmer winters and springs they flower earlier than they would otherwise. Current climate change models predict that annual temperatures will increase in Western and Northern Canada while actually cooling in parts of Eastern Canada. By comparing current records with past records, researchers have observed that some plants in Western Canada are flowering nearly a month earlier than they did a century ago! By participating in PlantWatch you will help us better understand how common plants are responding to climate change as well as where and at what rate our climate is changing.

What Kinds of Activities does PlantWatch do in Saskatchewan?

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Saskatchewan PlantWatch coordinates volunteer activities with in the province. If you wish to submit your observations in paper form, you can send them to the Nature Saskatchewan office. We also publish and distribute an annual newsletter filled with PlantWatch news as well as interesting articles on plants and climate change.

For current information please read the latest Saskatchewan Plant Watch Newsletter

There is ample documentation that the climate change we are experiencing is due in part to the increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. PlantWatch aims to inform the public of the effects of climate change and the simple actions we can take to reduce GHG emissions in our everyday lives. Saskatchewan PlantWatch is committed to tracking the valuable societal aspects of climate change. As part of this, PlantWatchers are invited to inform us of actions they are willing to take to reduce their personal GHG emissions and track their progress on an annual basis.

Can I be a Citizen Scientist?

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Anyone who is interested in learning more about plants can become a PlantWatch participant. PlantWatching is a fun activity for families, classrooms, naturalists, youth organizations and outdoors groups or anyone who just enjoys flowers and can't wait to get outdoors in the springtime!

Anyone regardless of age, skill level or location can be a "citizen scientist". All you have to do is select a plant or plants that grow in your area, find it in your community and start recording. Every observation counts… reporting even one flowering date for one plant is a great contribution!

To register, free of charge, as a Saskatchewan PlantWatch participant either call us toll-free in Saskatchewan on the HOOT LINE at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668) or send an email to Deanna Trowsdale-Mutafov. Please include your name and mailing address in the body of the message.

You can contact us about the Saskatchewan PlantWatch program by:

Calling us toll-free in Saskatchewan on the HOOT LINE at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668) or by e-mail to Deanna Trowsdale-Mutafov.

Saskatchewan PlantWatch Funding Partners:

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  • SaskPower
  • EcoAction