What is Track a Tree?

Silver birch woodland near Edinburgh

Track a Tree extends the seasonal observations of Nature’s Calendar, and participants will collect important new information on the phenology of woodland trees and flowering plants. These records will become part of a national network monitoring our woodlands over this and future springs.

Four key features of Track a Tree make the project unique:

  1. It follows individual trees. This means we can find out how much trees are able to adjust their phenology from year to year as climate conditions vary. Scientists call this flexibility phenotypic plasticity.
  2. It follows randomly selected trees in woodland. This provide a range of dates when different species reach budburst or come into leaf, rather than just the very first events that happen in woodlands. Knowing how these dates vary within a location is important for understanding interactions between species.
  3. It follows interacting species. By observing the flowering of plants beneath individual trees, we can see whether these ground flora species are able to shift their phenology to keep up with changes in the timing of shading under climate change.
  4. It follows woodland communities. Through recording the phenology of UK woodland communities, we can find out how seasonal timing varies across some of our most important habitats.

Track a Tree will provide insights into the seasonal timing of woodland species, and how future changes in climate may affect the interactions between trees and flowering plants. Track a Tree has been developed by Christine Tansey as part of her PhD research at the University of Edinburgh. This PhD is supported by the Woodland Trust, and Christine works with the Nature’s Calendar scheme exploring the seasonal timing, or phenology, of UK plant species.

The Online recording pages for the Track a Tree project have been built using the Indicia toolkit (www.indicia.org.uk), with the database hosted by the Biological Records Centre (www.brc.ac.uk) within the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.