Review of the USA National Phenology Network

Circular 1411
Edited by: Pierre D. Glynn and Timothy W. Owen



In January 2014, leadership from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Ecosystems Mission Area commissioned a review of the USA National Phenology Network (USA–NPN) Program. The Ecosystems Mission Area has a key stake in the USA–NPN, providing both supervision of its Director and most of the appropriated funds. The products and objectives of the program are relevant to six of the seven USGS Mission Areas as well as to at least four Department of the Interior (DOI) bureaus.

A nine-person panel of reviewers, with representatives from the USGS, other Federal agencies, and academia, was convened to provide advice and recommendations to USGS leadership. Specifically, the panel was asked to assess the science utility of having a National Phenology Network; to consider USGS science mission and DOI management needs served by the USA–NPN; and to consider the utility of the USA–NPN to other Federal agency science missions or management needs (including the National Science Foundation [NSF] and university research funded by the NSF and other government agencies).

This report summarizes the panel’s findings and offers five recommendations for USGS leadership:

1. Commit to stable USA–NPN funding and increase accountability.

2. Establish a Federal Steering Committee, led by the USGS, and a separate Scientific Phenology User Group.

3. Emphasize continental-scale phenology data and information.

4. Formalize volunteer engagement in phenology data collection.

5. Integrate phenology information into USGS science.

The panel generally affirms the value of the USA–NPN program and finds that the program is successfully meeting the needs of its stakeholders, including the USGS. However, the USGS needs to be more engaged in the program, providing leadership and setting priorities for the future. The USA–NPN, in turn, needs to deliver more clearly defined, DOI-relevant, USGS-integrated, data product lines that have the broadest possible spatial and temporal scope to meet user needs across the United States.

The panel recommends that the USA–NPN National Coordinating Office (NCO) establish an implementation plan that addresses all of the panel recommendations, with priorities, timelines, and assumptions to move the program forward successfully.

Suggested Citation

Glynn, P.D., and Owen, T.W., eds., 2015, Review of the USA National Phenology Network: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1411, 27 p.,

ISSN: 2330-5703 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary (by the Review Panel)
  • Phenology: Introduction and Importance to Federal Agencies
  • Charter and Process for the Review
  • USA–NPN Background Information
  • Discussion of the USA–NPN (by the Review Panel)
  • Review Panel Recommendations
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Panel Member Biographies
  • Appendix 2. Agenda and Attendees of the April 2014 Review Workshop
  • Appendix 3. List of Documents Provided to the Review Panel
  • Appendix 4. National Coordinating Office Perspective of USA–NPN Accomplishments  Since 2007
  • Appendix 5. Advisory Committee Contributions and Perspective of USA–NPN Accomplishments Since 2007
  • Appendix 6. Introduction to Federal Advisory Committees
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Review of the USA National Phenology Network
Series title Circular
Series number 1411
DOI 10.3133/cir1411
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Eastern Branch
Description iii, 27 p.
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details