With nearly all of our plants mapped at Staffanson, Claire and I have taken a little sneak peak at the spatial data we collected (it's like Christmas in July, we just couldn't wait to open our presents). I have included a graph depicting the the average distance from each flowering Echinacea plant to its kth nearest neighbor. The distribution of distances were nearly all skewed right so I plotted the natural log-transformed distances +/- the SE. There are clear differences between the East and West units (note that the East unit was burned in 2014).

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Although this graph does not necessarily reflect distances to the true nearest flowering neighbors (we only included distances for plants mapped on our sampling transect), these data are consistent with our hypothesis that fire increases the density of flowering Echinacea. More to come soon...

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The field season is heating up for Team Echinacea both literally and metaphorically. Much of the metaphorical heat comes from the awesome work everyone has been putting into group and independent projects. However, a small portion of this heat also comes from a budding relationship between Andrea and I that was sparked at experimental plot 2 a week ago. On my day off, I missed her so much I simply had to draw a picture of her.

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Why is Andrea so special to me? One important reason is that she is an Andrena bee and Andrena seem to be the most efficient pollinators of Echinacea angustifolia based on our preliminary findings. Another reason is that she is absolutely adorable and very photogenic.

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Aside from missing Andrea, I also made dinner for the team. I decided on sweet potato black bean tacos with homemade tortillas. Mmmm.....

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With Echinacea's flowering reaching its peak, there isn't a better idiom to describe the team's work schedule for the week. Remnant phenology, independent projects, and a large scale compatibility project are just a few of the tasks being carried out on a regular basis. As for the pollinator project Maureen and I have been working on, things are going great. After alternating back and forth between P1 and P2, we have accumulated over 60 observations, which is a little over half of what we are aiming for. Towards the beginning, we saw mostly small green bees, but recently we have started seeing more and more of the larger bees, such as Melisodes and Andrena. For example, we added 7 more Andrena observations just today, which more than tripled the Andrena observations we had up to this point. Things may be a little hectic at Team Echinacea headquarters, but this doesn't mean we are all work and no play. Just tonight we enjoyed a post work bonfire with s'mores, badminton, and croquet. You might even say it was the...... bee's knees!

And just in case this post didn't contain enough corny pollinator references, here's a couple of pictures of a pair of Melisodes teaching us a lesson about the Birds and the Bees.

gettin busy

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Today marked the first weekday of the peak week of flowering for Echinacea. We are working on phenology at all the remnants as will as P1. Several flowers are already on their last day of flowering. Despite the cold and blustery conditions of today the team did crosses for the compatibility project at Loeffler's Corner and set up the project at East Elk Lake Road. Cam and I worked on my exhaustive crossing project at Yellow Orchid Hill. We weren't able to collect pollen and cross until after lunch, but fortunately the pollen was not blown away by the wind! Tomorrow will be more phenology and compatibility!

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