Creating a Phenology Trail Around Central Park Pond

(1) The Browning School, New York, New York
Cover photo for Creating a Phenology Trail Around Central Park Pond

In this study, we aimed to determine whether the life cycle stages, or phenophases, of some plants in the urban environment of Central Park, New York, differ from the typical phenophases of the same plant species. To address this aim, we created the first phenology trail in Central Park, New York, by monitoring physical changes in thirteen plants over time and using DNA barcoding to confirm the visual identification of plant species on the trail. We isolated DNA barcodes from thirteen leaf samples by performing DNA extraction, PCR, and gel electrophoresis, before sending the samples for sequencing. We created an online map of our phenology trail using the program iNaturalist so that said map may be used by future researchers and citizen scientists. We hypothesized that the phenophases of the thirteen plants we studied would differ from their typical phenophases due to the 2 to 3 degree increase in temperature resulting from the urban heat island effect, which would have an impact on temperature-determined phenophases. We observed that, although the phenophases of five of our plants matched up with typical trends, there were distinct changes in the phenophases of the other eight, possibly resulting from the urban heat island effect.

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