We recently received a query about collecting vouchers that do not represent new records for a county, but are the first of the season.
I think having first-of-season specimens (and last, as well) in the collection are very worthwhile. They are especially important to provide baseline as well as ongoing data on
phenology fluctuations due to climate change -- something researchers
are already doing with herbarium specimens.
Darrin and I have always made an effort to at least collect individuals that are earlier or later than any others of their species in the MOS database, if not the first or last of a species in each season. Darrin went through and created a spreadsheet of first and last dates for all species in the counties we usually collect in. This is a little tedious, so Mark and I are looking into incorporating a Julian date field in
the database. This way, records could be searched and sorted by
day-of-year...great for volunteer users and also for making phenology
graphs for the atlas.
Meanwhile, vouchering first-of-the-year for a variety of species is a decent strategy and can really add to the knowledge we have about flight periods and changes in the timing of emergence and arrival of migrants. We're happy to have these records to add to the database.