Rites of Spring

January 26, 2015

Roger MoonOnce there was a man who walked to work on the St. Paul campus each day for 50 years. And for each of those years, he watched the trees and plants on his route and took notes recording the events that signaled changes in the seasons—the first sprig of green, the early buds, the bursting flowers that signaled springtime.

It is something that many people do—remark upon the weather and the changes in the air—from avid gardeners to old friends over coffee. What makes this man unique is his individual record, consistently following the patterns of 14 different plant species from 1941 to 1991.

This man was entomologist Alexander Hodson, he of Hodson Hall on the CFANS campus, and his historical observations have become the foundation for new research into the effects of climate change on Minnesota's environment.

Roger Moon in Entomology is now working for Rebecca Montgomery in Forest Resources to assemble a comprehensive historical record of seasonal plant events. "Back in 2011, I was sitting in my house looking at my crabapple tree and was reminded of Hodson's spring events—one of them was the yearly apple bloom," Moon says. "Hodson is one of the intellectual fathers of our department. I thought it was a shame, so I'm trying to get the graduate students organized to carry on the record."

Please view the full article, written by Sara Specht, in the CFANS Solutions Winter issue (2015)