Fall foliage research in the news

Second Century Stewardship fellow Dr. Stephanie Spera of the University of Richmond, who is studying changes in fall foliage season in Acadia National Park, has been quoted in two recent news articles.

From The Washington Post:

“We actually were able to piece together, from the 1950s to now, peak foliage is occurring a full week later. It’s actually delaying a day a decade,” Spera said. Now, peak season doesn’t occur until around the second weekend of October. The delay is partly linked to warmer temperatures, particularly at night, she said. During the day, leaves use the sunlight to produce sugars. Cooler nights help trap the sugars in the leaf. The sugars lead to the production of pigments, such as anthocyanins, which produce the brilliant red seen in maple leaves.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Among the seasons, says researcher Stephanie Spera, who is involved in a yearslong foliage-monitoring project, autumn is the scientific ugly duckling, “the most understudied.” In fact, for now the best source for leaf trends over the years might be a New Hampshire pancake parlor…