FruitWatch: Monitoring Fruit Tree Flowering Dates
I’m Chris Wyver, and my PhD project at the University of Reading aims to understand whether flowering dates of fruit trees and flight dates of their pollinators are remaining in sync in the changing climate. Historically, flowers and pollinators were well matched in time, however, recent evidence suggests that trees are flowering earlier than their pollinating bees which may pose threats for fruit production due to poor pollination.
While there are many easily available records of when pollinators fly, there is much less information regarding fruit tree flowering dates, especially in terms of geographical coverage. We are engaging citizen scientists to record flowering dates of common fruit trees (apple, pear, cherry, and plum) that they have either in their gardens, allotments, or in the parks and green spaces they visit to help us better understand the impact of climate on fruit tree flowering dates.
We have partnered with Oracle for Research to develop an easy-to-use recording website compatible with both mobile and desktop (see below), which we will be up and running at www.fruitwatch.org by the 21 of February 2022. For more detailed project information, please visit the ‘About the project’ section of the website.
The link will allow users to enter their location, the fruit type and variety, flowering stage, and upload pictures of the tree and the flower, and, once submitted will automatically update a map on the results page to allow recorders to compare their flowering dates to other areas. No personal data of any description will be requested or collected. Recorders will have access to the study findings showing how their data has contributed to a better understanding of how climate is affecting our fruit trees, bees, and fruit production.
We hope this research will interest both citizen scientists and commercial fruit growers, and we would be really interested in working with you to help reach a wider audience and increase the impact of this research.