San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection[BRCC San Diego Natural History Museum: Botany: Climate Change

Climate Change

Reading Room
Plant Atlas

Layla Aerne Hains
fax: 619.232.0248

Webcasts from the
Climate Change Workshop
held Nov. 7, 2007

Seeing Climate Through the Lives of Plants

The Museumís Botany Department has been awarded a grant from the Blasker-Rose-Miah Fund of the San Diego Foundation to conduct local climate-change research using botanical data. The goal is to compile and analyze all available plant-specimen data that has been collected from San Diego County as well as identify locations and key indicator species that exhibit measurable responses to climate.

Phenology refers to the timing of specific biological events (for example, first openings of leaf and flower buds, insect hatchings and bird migration) in relation to changes in season and climate. Phenological responses to seasonal changes (such as variation in day-length, temperature, and rain or snowfall) can be ideal indicators of the impact of local climate change.

Our Museum collections tell us about conditions that existed in our history. We have been collecting and preserving plant specimens since 1874 and continue to add new records as a result of the San Diego County Plant Atlas project. The specimen label records historic information about San Diego County—what plants grew where, and what time of year they were flowering.

Are regional climate changes influencing the diversity, distribution, or flowering regimes of our flora?