The collaborative citizen science project “Pflanze KlimaKultur!” (English: Plant Climate-Culture!) brings together scientists from the Botanic Garden Berlin (Freie Universität Berlin) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, teams from the universities in Jena, Halle, and Leipzig, as well as citizens of these four cities who wish to investigate the influence of climate change on the growth stages of plants.
When do the plants send out new shoots, when do their leaves unfold, when do they bloom, when do their fruits ripen, when do their leaves fall? Plants are particularly sensitive indicators for changes in climate as they quickly reflect possible ecological effects of climate change. The starting date for specific phases in their seasonal life cycle (phenology) is significantly affected by temperature. Thus, changes in climate can be well established by looking at changes in the temporal developmental stages in plants. Most notably, increases in temperature lead to an earlier unfolding of leaves, blossoming, and fruit formation. In Germany, the period of vegetation for notable broad-leaved trees has been extended by up to 2.3 days per decade between the years of 1951 and 2000.
Urban habitats have long since become “hot spots” for biodiversity and climate change. Extreme temperatures and precipitation show stronger effects in the city compared to rural environments. Their pronounced temperature gradient makes cities an ideal location to research the consequences of climate change.
Image: Wayne Schmitt
The project wants to get to the bottom of the question: how much does the phenology from 10 selected herbaceous perennial plants truly reflect urban climate. Although dominant in many habitats, the phenology of herbaceous plants is much less well-known than that of woody plants. To this purpose, it is planned to distribute “Klimabeete” (Eng.: climate garden beds) as evenly throughout the city as possible. Do plants in the warm city center bloom earlier than those in the outskirts? Are these differences the same in all species and all life phases? How can our results help to shape city green spaces in a manner which is more climate-resilient, sustainable, and livable?
Pflanze KlimaKultur! offers citizens many opportunities for active contribution. At its core, the project is aimed towards people in the city and surrounding areas of Berlin, Halle, Jena and Leipzig, who, in the corner of their garden, would like to cultivate ten herbaceous plants and observe their phenological development over the course of two years. This data can be collected using a smartphone or with traditional pen and paper using printed out observation forms. The sets of plants are expected to be given out to participants in March 2022 within the scope of opening ceremonies and courses held in the four cities. Those without their own garden can still actively participate in our model garden beds, for example in Schlosspark Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace) or on the campus of the Freie Universität. In addition, school gardens are to be supported in setting up a „climate bed“.
Furthermore, participants can discuss opportunities for integrating climate adaptation in the planting of urban green spaces in the context of important and current topics such as species diversity, the biodiversity crisis, climate change and diversity as well as green education. The networking of people and organizations serves as a foundation for collective action in creating a climate-resilient, biodiversity-friendly, and livable city. Together with local actors, the project aims to find natural solutions to prepare our local urban nature for climate change.
Those interested can already get in touch during the winter of 2021/22 by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The project runs from July 2021 to February 2024 and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the citizen research funding area. It is one of 15 projects that will advance the cooperation between citizens and scientists in terms of content and methods by the end of 2024 and provide answers to social challenges.