We started off the morning working on independent projects, collecting and relocating aphids in P1 and doing phenology in P1. A few of us headed out to Hegg lake before lunch to help Amy search for plants in her plot dedicated to her local adaptation study. As we worked we could see the sky darken to the west, and right before we headed in for lunch we heard the first clap of thunder. Our plans to begin measuring Echinacea in P1 for the afternoon were thwarted by the storm. We spent the afternoon doing data entry and tidying up around the Hjelm house before we headed out for the day.

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We spent the morning working on our personal projects. Elizabeth assessed style shriveling on her crossed flowers at Yellow Orchid Hill, where, she reports, flowering has recently passed its peak. Meanwhile, Claire and Jared performed crosses on the focal plants on the west unit of Staffanson. In P1, Will worked on his pollen preservation experiment and the Pollinator Posse (Keaton, Maureen, and Jennifer) surveyed P1 phenology. Further afield, Alli continued her flowering community analysis.

But the real action was at Hegg Lake, where I finished my first round of aphid additions to Echinacea angustifolia, E. pallida, and their hybrids in P7. I have almost doubled my efficiency since starting the additions, performing 20 additions in a little over an hour. I also surveyed the phenology of the 18 E. pallida flowering in the restoration nearby. Aphid survival and flowering phenology may seem pretty disparate topics--and they are--but they both inform our understanding of the consequences of introducing a non-native but closely related Echinacea species. Do they support the same aphids? How about their hybrids? How likely are they to hybridize? How much does their flowering phenology overlap? It's hard to stick to just one question.

Doubtless inspired by my example, the rest of the team came to Hegg in the afternoon, where we measured plants in P2. Many of us we were able to increase our efficiency by working alone instead of in pairs, and row by row we progressed eastward. Less than an afternoon's work remains.

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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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