PhenoCam: An evolving, open-source tool to study the temporal and spatial variability of ecosystem-scale phenology

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3 Scopus citations


Over the last twenty years, phenology—the study of seasonal life cycle events—has emerged as a key subfield of global change biology. Phenology provides an integrated measure of the organismal response to climate change and is a key driver of the functional responses of ecosystems to climate change. Since I established the PhenoCam Network in 2008, over 200 papers have been published using Phenocam technology, and these papers have added to our understanding of phenology as both an indicator of climate variability and change and a key aspect of ecosystem function. This review examines: (1) the changing phenological research landscape, as represented by phenology-themed papers in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology (AFM), over the last 60 y; (2) the contributions of phenocams and the PhenoCam Network, as reported in the pages of AFM, to the study of phenology; and (3) the lessons I have learned from developing this grassroots effort, and how other researchers might benefit from the PhenoCam Network's successes and failures. Key conclusions to emerge from this review include: (1) the enormous, value-added power of research networks; (2) the importance of both interpersonal relationships and serendipity, in the metamorphosis of ideas into results; and (3) the potential for open, freely-available data to be transformative, in ways that cut across disciplinary, socioeconomic, and demographic barriers. Finally, the development of the PhenoCam Network has been a collaborative, multidisciplinary experiment in team science, and the commitment of my team members and the enthusiasm of my collaborators have been critical to the success of these efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109751
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
StatePublished - Nov 15 2023


  • Carbon cycle
  • Ecohydrology
  • Energy balance
  • Land-atmosphere interactions
  • Seasonality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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