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Uncovering, Collecting, and Analyzing Records to Investigate the Ecological Impacts of Climate Change: A Template from Thoreau's Concord

Richard B. Primack and Abraham J. Miller-Rushing
BioScience
Vol. 62, No. 2 (February 2012), pp. 170-181
DOI: 10.1525/bio.2012.62.2.10
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/bio.2012.62.2.10
Page Count: 12
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Uncovering, Collecting, and Analyzing Records to Investigate the Ecological Impacts of Climate Change: A Template from Thoreau's Concord
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Abstract

Historical records are an important resource for understanding the biological impacts of climate change. Such records include naturalists' journals, club and field station records, museum specimens, photographs, and scientific research. Finding records and overcoming their limitations are serious challenges to climate change research. In the present article, we describe efforts to locate data from Concord, Massachusetts, and provide a template that can be replicated in other locations. Analyses of diverse data sources, including observations made in the 1850s by Henry David Thoreau, indicate that climate change is affecting the phenology, presence, and abundance of species in Concord. Despite recent work on historical records, many sources of historical data are underutilized. Analyses of these data may provide insights into climate change impacts and techniques to manage them. Moreover, the results are useful for communicating local examples of changing climate conditions to the public.

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