Citizen Science for Understanding Berries in a Changing North

Welcome to Winterberry!

Winterberry is a community ("citizen") science project where University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists and community volunteers investigate how shifting seasons could affect when berries are available to animals and people.  

Two publications from this work are now available!

Berries in Winter: a natural history of fruit retention in four species across Alaska  (by Christa Mulder, Katie Spellman and Jasmine Shaw) features the fabulous dataset collected by all the Winterberry participants. It's part of a special issue of the journal Madroño on phenological patterns of the flora of western North America. Check out those Acknowledgements - everyone who contributed to the dataset is there!

Connecting Community and Citizen Science to Stewardship Action Planning through Scenarios Storytelling  (by Katie Spellman, Doug Cost and Chris Villano) features the groups that participated in the scenarios exercises. 

We are really proud of how the Winterberry participants made this work possible!

In the far North, springs are coming earlier, summers are warmer, and falls are more variable. Shifting seasons may have an effect on when berries are available to people, birds, and small mammals that eat them.  Many of Alaska's berry-producing plants hold on to their fruits into the winter and even spring, and these berries are very important to animals such as voles, foxes, and grouse. 

Will a longer time between when berries ripen and when the snow falls mean more berries will rot or get eaten?  Will this leave less for the animals that depend on these berries in winter and spring? 

We invite you to join the individual volunteers, K-12 classes, after school programs, parents and children - anyone interested in berries -  throughout Alaska and northern regions of the globe in answering these questions. Berry tracking is simple and fun!

This project is support through partnerships with the  Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Program and the Arctic and Earth SIGNs program. Major funding is provided through a grant to the University of Alaska Fairbanks from the National Science Foundation, award 1713156 (PI: KV Spellman, CoPIs: CP Mulder and EB Sparrow).

Learn more about what we know about berry phenology in Alaska, what the mysteries are, and how you can help below.

Winterberry intro v2.mp4

Dr. Christa Mulder takes you through the Winterberry project science overview and the basics of observing berries.

Dr. Katie Spellman discusses the ongoing research on berries by UAF and USGS that spans the life cycle of the berry plants, and illustrates how Winterberry Citizen science helps improve our knowledge of how berries are changing in the far North.


Read our newsletter with the most recent project highlights, data, and stories. We hope you like the "Berry Times" pun. Phenology... Times... Get it!?