I am Colin Venner, Biology major from Denison University. Orignially of Saline, Michigan (just outside of Ann Arbor), I am in the class of 2009 and I am a Taurus (though I don't fit the profile for one). I enjoy several different styles of music and have been known to "cut a mean rug". When I'm not counting anthers of flowering Echinacea heads you can find me enjoying life and smiling frequently.
June 2007 Archives
I am Colin Venner, Biology major from Denison University. Orignially of Saline, Michigan (just outside of Ann Arbor), I am in the class of 2009 and I am a Taurus (though I don't fit the profile for one). I enjoy several different styles of music and have been known to "cut a mean rug". When I'm not counting anthers of flowering Echinacea heads you can find me enjoying life and smiling frequently.
Hi i'm Amy Alstad. I'm 5' 113/4". The saddest part of life is that i'm not 6' tall. I'm from MN and i'm going to be a junior at Carleton college
My name is Julie Nicol. I graduated from Carleton College (Northfield, MN) with a degree in biology in 2007. I am from Seattle, WA and hope to move back at some point. In the meantime I'm here working on the Echinacea project. I really enjoy the area; it's quite beautiful. In the fall I'll be heading to Chicago to work for Stuart at the Chicago Botanic Garden until next spring. Eventually I will (most likely) go to grad school, but I intend to spend the next few years figuring out exactly what I want to study.
On a more personal note, I enjoy being outside (hiking, kayaking, diving, windsurfing, etc.), reading (one of my favorite books is The Master and Margarita), and music (I have wide-ranging tastes from joy division to dar williams). I am also interested in and concerned with social justice and environmental issues.
Well, here are some pics from our night of terror in the barn.
Well, I got to the farmhouse early to get ready for videorecording. Put the tripods in the big blue tubs for easy transport to the common garden, and then worked on getting random assignments of plants, which were kindly printed out by Stuart.
After assigning plants to different cameras, Colin and I walked briskly to the CG to set up everything. It took much longer than expected, partly because it was the first time and partly because I am really slow. I'm not sure why -- I like to be careful and I have always been the slow one in the field, oh well.
One camera did not work after plugging in the doctored battery, so we pondered over it for quite a while. What was more alarming was that even the Sony-supplied battery stopped working in that particular recorder! I was worried at that point, so we tried another Sony battery and camcorder along with the doctored battery and the same horrible thing happened again -- no recording and the original battery stopped working! So, we hightailed it back to the farmhouse to figure things out.
After trying different combos of batteries, doctored connectors, and such, we determined that one of the doctored batteries was to blame. Either it wasn't charged enough, or maybe too much -- I will have to check with the voltmeter to find out for sure. It was a relief to know that nothing was permanently damaged -- I am nervous about this whole enterprise as it has been quite expensive! But, I am hoping that the data will be worth it.
With a contraption built to take accurate pictures of flowering Echinacea heads, I assumed that fluctuating asymmetry (FA) measurements were just around the corner. Boy howdy was I wrong. It turns out, as Stuart has informed me, there are many ways in which to measure FA, each as viable as the next. The most apparent idea, though potentially most flawed, was to simply measure the length of each ray floret and compare that to its complementary floret directly across the disk. Measuring 2 pairs of florets per head seemed simple enough, though it was soon found that there are many problems with such a simple procedure. For example, this idea doesn't take into account any herbivory/senescence that has occurred, though most methods don't. Also, any difference in widths between the florets was ignored. This plan obviously had to go. The quick fix solution to this was to measure the width of each floret as well, and compare these numbers separately. This again causes problems, since it doesn't take into account the varying shapes of individual florets, but rather the similarity of a total area. The florets can have a similar area and yet certainly be very much asymmetric.
The ultimate solution to these problems is to measure asymmetry with an all encompassing measurement rather than one that attempts to isolate single florets. Stuart suggested creating 2 circles of best fit; one around the ray florets and one of the disk itself (either the outer edge or the flowering anthers, both may present their own difficulties). These circles would each have its own center point, the disk circle would represent the "true" center of the head, while the ray center point would be altered by any asymmetry of the florets. The ray floret center point would be calculated based on the area of color, therefore taking into account the area of the floret without making any assumptions as to the shapes of individual florets. The difference between these two points would give a numeric value of asymmetry. It seems to be the best solution so far, but I'm open to any other suggestions. This plan, like the rest, definitely has its own problems.
In non-Echinacea related news, the chiggers continue to molest my legs, but have also (oh, so fortunately) moved onto the rest of my body. I now have a collection of bites that range from that spot between my shoulder blades that I can never reach, to inside my belly button, to the tops of my feet. Sure glad those suckers are small enough so I can't see them sneak into all of my clothing, yet large enough to cause so much damage. I'll keep you posted on how my itching develops.
Turns out, our camera wasn't saving settings properly. That's lame. I got it to work and have some slightly modified settings from Julie's post. Here's the rundown.
I seem to have been shanghaid into this team, at least in a supporting role. Andy bought some sort of super-batteries, which seem to have a different connector than the Sony Handycam cameras he has. So he calls on me to solder connectors for them. Turns out, our hack job only works on the newer models of Handycam, though we're working on getting the older ones to not throw up an error.
To get the newer ones working, we plug in the original battery, plug our hacked battery into the external power port, then remove the original battery. Doing it any other way makes the camera throw an error and not turn on fully.
The team formally called "Team Binocular" has now been christened "Bee Team" because of our apparent lack of need for binoculars. We found after some preliminary observations that watching bees with binoculars is pretty much impossible. There is simply too much swaying of brome to be able to track a small darkly covered bee. The wind also picks up too quickly in the morning, making the bees' flights very erratic and difficult to follow. We tried to follow the bees as they flew off the Echinacea heads, but they would usually catch in the wind and then disappear from our field of view. We also used a step ladder to see if increased height above the garden would help us, but it did not. This stage of the project was a tad disheartening and we began to doubt the feasibility of our project.
We did make some positive progress however, and found that we could often follow the bees with the naked eye. Many times we could actually follow the bee with our eyes as it flew to the next flower, although these flights were typically very short, often just to one of the closest flowers a few meters away or to another flower head on the same plant. The uncertainty of whether that bee is actually the same one led us to devise strategies for distinguishing this fact. People mark honeybees, so we figured that marking our bees the same way with a bit of paint on the thorax would be a feasible option. To determine the feasibility, I "pet" the bee with a bit of brome grass to see if we could mark the bees while they were on the flower heads. In most cases, as long as you moved slowly, the bees were not in the least bit disturbed and continued to explore the flower heads. We put small paint dots on several small non-metallic halictids that we figured we were not going to track due to the difficulty in identifying them on the fly. What was amazing was that we saw some of these bees again as we walked around the common garden not only about 5 minutes after we had marked them, but also almost an hour later when we returned to the common garden.
The most common bee species we saw was Agapostemon virescens, which is a Halictid with a metallic green head and thorax. This bee is fairly large and is also readily identifiable. We also saw another bee fairly fre quently, another halictid Halictis rubicundus. While this bee is also large and even easier to track as it flies because it is slower moving, it would also be harder to paint because it is somewhat more skittish and moves quicker and more erratically on the flower heads. Because of this, we have chosen to focus on Agapostemon virescens first and then maybe expand to other species.
Anyways, that is enough observations for now, but the opportunities for this project are exciting and seem very promising. Several things seem possible with this project (according to Stuart), including determination of home ranges, estimation of population size, and flight patterns.
Ian tries out his marking technique as he pets a bee with a brome straw
Tomorrow marks the official kick-off day for the Bee Team. We plan to mark several species of generalist bees found in the common garden with paint spots on the thorax. Our painted bees will hopefully provide data that will answer questions about their population size in the common garden, home ranges of individual bees, and flight path distances between echinacea heads. Before we begin marking our bees tomorrow, we need to:
-find and/or make nails with rounded ends with which to paint the bees (nails are the recommended tool, according to Ian's online research, as they transfer thin, even circles) and
-make a pendragon form for the visors with which to collect data (this form should include date, time, bee species, paint color, plant on which the bee was originally observed, and a place for notes)
nails/other paint applicators
list of random numbers
1. Generate a list of random number 10-56. Distribute evenly divided lists of these numbers to the 2 groups of 2 people participating. Walk the rows of the common garden in the perscribed order with one person on each side of the row, scanning the row for Agapostemon virescens
2. When a bee is sighted, paint a circle circle on its thorax. After painting radio/yell to the other group and relay the color used, so as to avoid doubling up on colors.
3. Record data for each painted bee into the pendragon form on the visor
Depending on the success of our painting efforts in the morning, we will maybe begin to collect data for home range and population size estimates.
So this is my very first blog entry so it will be lacking all the neat links to pictures et al in that are in other people's entries but it will talk about Echinacea.
Since this is my first blog I should probably spend a little time introducing myself. My name is Jennifer I am a in an inter-disciplinary PhD program, called LEAP, at the University of Illinois at Chicago in conjunction with the Chicago Botanic Garden. LEAP stands for Landscape Ecological and Anthropogenic Processes, it is an NSF funded IGERT program aimed at increasing biodiversity in human altered landscapes. For a much better description of LEAP see http://www.uic.edu/depts/bios/leap/. As for the Echinacea Project I have been involved with the project first as an intern back in 2003-2004 then as a graduate student (since summer 2005). My research mainly focuses on understanding how flowering phenology (when a plant flowers) shapes seed set, pollen movement, and ultimately genetic structure in a population. For more see my website at http://www2.uic.edu/~ison/.
To understand how flowering phenology shapes population structure we use a variety of methods. First we collect phenology data in the common garden. The current protocol has us counting anthers shedding pollen every other day. We then collect the seed heads in the fall and individually weigh a subset of the seeds to get an estimate of seed set. Why individually weigh seeds? Well it is the only non-destructive method of determining if an achene (the technical term for fruits in the Asteraceae) actually has a viable embryo. We know that 97% or seeds weighing greater than 2 mg will germinate and 91% of less weighing less than 2 mg will not germinate. As of this spring we have individually weighed (with the help of an amazing volunteer named Art) weighed 30,211 seeds. This June Art has embarked on weighing another 3,000 seeds from the 2006 flowering plants. So far we know that late flowering plants set much less seed than early or peak flowering plants. To get at the hereditability of flowering phenology we planted a second common garden (yes there is another common garden) on a site called Hegg Lake owned by the DNR. The site was planted with just about 4,000 seedlings in May 2006 and the plants will hopefully flower before I finish my PhD.
Finally, to understand how flowering phenology influences pollen movement we are using molecular genetic techniques, specifically microsatellites markers. Microsatellites are a molecular genetic marker that consist of repeating non-coding regions in the genome (eg GATGATGATGAT). Since they are repeating non-coding regions they mutate relatively rapidly so there are different number of repeats for the same microsatellite in a population--alleles. With these microsatellites we will be able to, eventually, take a seed from a known maternal plant and find out who the dad is. I developed microsatellites specifically for Echinacea last fall at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. I now need to determine of these microsatellites I found do they actually have enough alleles to conduct paternity analysis. While everyone else has been up in Minnesota flying kites I have been spending time in the genetics lab trying to get the microsatellites to work. After spending too long figuring out the optimal number of cycles and temperature in the PCR, plus how much, if any, Mg to add I finally have been having success with about 5 microsatellites.
Today I ran four out of the five primers on 16 plants (8 from the preserve and 8 from Steven's approach) and had multiple alleles!!! I had between 4 to 6 alleles just in these 16 plants. It was very exciting after spending so long playing with PCR conditions. It was very rewarding to run samples that actually worked and even better that all the microsatellites were at least moderately variable. My goal is to get 8 primers with all with around 6 alleles, which should be enough to do figure out who the dad is. For my next blog entry I'll see if I can figure out how to add pictures and I'll insert some images of my microsatellite alleles.
I think that is more than enough for my first entry. I will hopefully have more exciting news regarding the microsatellites before I come up to Minnesota (which is on July 15th).
Notes to self:
Equipment for MN
-2 meter sticks
-data logger (?)--talk to JF
Finish up at CBG
-put seeds into freezer--talk to AS?
-data entry for Theresa
-get tissue samples into fresh silica gel
-molecular work for John and Eric
Here is a draft for the video protocol. I'd love any useful comments you may have; it is definitely a work in progress, so if you read something and it isn't clear, please let me know and I will change it. Thanks, A.M.
Protocol for recording pollinators:
v.1.0 (Jun 27 2007)
List of heads to video
A few (~5) pin flags
Five 3 x 5 in. cards and a sharpie
Set of camcorders and battery packs
1. Get a list of heads that need to recorded from Andy the evening prior to the actual recording date. Each person will be responsible for 3-4 heads for that recording day.
2. Get to the farmhouse at 8am sharp so that you can start recording for sure by 9am.
3. Make a list of 'cue cards' for each head that you are to record. This involves writing:
plant location (row and position), color of twist tie and date on a 3 x 5 in. card. This is the first thing you will 'film' when going out to the CG, so that we can match up videos to the correct file.
4. Go to each head on the list and make sure that it is still flowering. If not, then add another plant (we'll supply > 5 heads per list), and make a note that the originally selected head is not flowering. If the plant IS flowering, then place a flag next to it so that you can find it easily. Go to the next head on the list.
5. Next, get the correct camcorder and battery (labeled A-J), put it on a tripod and put it in position over the inflorescence (head). The ideal distance is about 1 ft. away from the head with the camera zoom at about ½ max. zoom. You should be able to see the entire head; try to imagine identifying bees using your recorded image and adjust accordingly. Take a quick video of your 'cue card' for each head and then turn off the camera.
Set up all of your cameras first, before starting to record for pollinators. We want to start them all at the same time, so you will need to coordinate with other members of TEAM VIDEO to start synchronously (using your radios).
Make sure that there are no big branches, stems, twigs, etc. that could possibly wave in front of the camera, thus obscuring the inflorescence.
6. At more or less the same time, go to each camera and press the red 'record' button. Then, skedaddle away so that you don't influence the pollinators!
7. At 4pm, go and stop each camera. Disconnect the batteries and return the camcorders and batteries to Andy. He'll upload the video to a PC and re-charge the batteries for the next round of filming!
I'm trying to devise ways of measuring FA (see previous post) on our plants. Ideally, we would want measurements on several different organs or parts because if, for example, inbred plants are more developmentally unstable, it would be more convincing if they were more asymmetric in both leaves and inflorescences.
Colin is designing (and hopefully testing) the picture-taking rig for flowering heads. But, I think that it can also be used to take pics of leaves. The trick is getting the leaf to lie flat on the backing of the rig. I was thinking of buying a hand-held scanner to scan leaves in the field, but that takes 4-8 seconds per leaf, and it seems easier and quicker to just snap a picture. Also, I am not sure where measurement error would come from if you scanned the actual leaf.
My biggest concern is getting the inflorescence to lie flat on the rig backing. It is important to get the ray florets nice and flat against the backing or else you could be mis-measuring things pretty easily. I almost think it may be easier to actual measure the ray florets using calipers in the field -- it would certainly be more accurate but would also take a bit longer, and you couldn't really measure ALL the ray florets per head -- it would take WAY too long.
If the rig doesn't work, we could have three people go out with calipers, one after another, measuring the same heads and leaves per plant. You could only measure perhaps 4 ray florets per head, but this is probably OK. This could probably be done in one day! If we could get a pendragon form for this measurement, it would be great, too. So, then you would have the measurements, as well as error that could be assigned to individual observers.
One more thing: We can measure asymmetry in the actual inflorescence by measuring the length of the ray florets, but we could also measure asymmetry WITHIN each ray floret, by measuring the L-R sides. This is what has to be done for the leaves becuase they are naturally asymmetric about the stem of the plant anyway due to differences in leaf age.
OK, my thoughts for now. Things are very exciting here, I hope to get my batteries in the next 2 days so that we can get the cameras up and running by Sunday. Science is happening!
I'm a little behind in my blogging so I'll write yesterday's blog today. I'm sitting here in my closet office. I have maps of Wisconsin and Minnesota hanging on the wall. Yesterday I cut them out and pieced them together. It looks pretty cool even though the maps aren't the same scale. I put up a map of PA, my home state, on the wall above my desk last night too, before I went to bed. I took some pictures around Andes yesterday to show everyone what it's like here. The top of the tallest part of the hill is the highest point in Douglas county. From the top there is a beautiful view of North Lake Oscar, which is just to the south, and all around there are rolling hills dotted with small farms and small patches of trees. The native landscape of this region, prairie, is hard to find. At the foot of the hill on the north side is our summer residence. They call them Condos, one has two bedrooms and the other three. The men got the three bedroom condo, which Andy has graciously named the Mando. The women have started calling their condo Raj Mahal. Except for the Andes employees who are there when we are at work we have the whole place all to ourselves. We have a pond that we can swim in. We have places of ride bicycles, and catch insects, and read, and dig gardens. I put in most of the tomato stakes yesterday. I think it gives the garden a lot of character that it was previously lacking. Living with so many Bio people is interesting. We have had a bowl of soapy water outside for a week to catch insects. This makes the fact that I'm using a plate to catch the water under one of my peace lilies seem normal. I brought a betta fish and a newt with me from school. Ian catches insects everyday and puts them in kill jars so he can pin them later. There are video cameras everywhere, that are solely for taking video of flowers to monitor pollinator activity, and then there is the garden, and several other house plants (including a small potted grapefruit tree).
Today I got my first verified case of chiggers. They are apparently burrowed in my skin, producing itchy raised red bumps.
Stuart came back today or last night with his family and two mattress-box spring sets from Chicago. So I upgraded my mattress from the one I had, which had to be the worst quality mattress that i have ever slept on. We started our group/individualer projects today. I'm supposed to be tracking insects that visit Echinacea with binoculars.
This afternoon for work, a kite was flown. Now, this was not just any kite. This kite had a name that involved "16", as that presumably is roughly the square footage of this beast. Being a gusty afternoon (Rachel clocked the wind speeds at anywhere from 7 to 27 mph). Having trouble getting the kite up by just letting the gusts grab it, I went to the house to grab a few more pairs of gloves (didn't want rope burn). As I returned, Rachel and Julie figured out the trick to get the kite up: run with it.
Trying to make sense of the batteries!
For the camcorders, the batteries themselves carry a charge of 7.2V and 4.9 Wh. But, the AC adapter's output is 8.4V and 1.7A. Which to use? Perhaps the adapter is higher because there is some resistance in the cord going to the camcorder, but maybe I am just making that up.
Here is a link to a promising product, a 8.4V NiMh battery with a charger included! 40 bucks, though, so it would be $400 for all 10 cameras. Well, this may be worth it...would love your thoughts on this, SW.
There is a nice primer on choosing batteries here.
For our purposes, we can calculate battery capacity using the formula:
Ah = Watts x Time (h) you want to run the camera / voltage needed for the camera
Ah = 3W x 8h / 7.2 V = roughly 3.3 Ah or 3300 mAh
Here's a nice closeup of styles waving in the breeze and some shameless anthers shedding pollen:
Major initiatives for this week:
Flowering phenology in the CG: get the visors ready for data collection on Tuesday & Thursday AM.
Herbivory of rays in CG: get the visors ready for data collection. This data we could collect in the afternoon. We'll probably get better quality data if we do it separately from the phenology data collection.
Style persistence in CG: This data is best collected in the morning. Probably better to collect separately from phenology, but they could go together.
FA: Make bracket for camera and design sampling scheme to take digital images of heads (esp. rays) to quantify symmetry.
Pollinator observations in CG
1. Use video cameras to quantify visitation. The power source is an issue. Batteries would be much easier to use than electric cords. 12V DC sources are cheap & readily available. Andy, what is the voltage output from the transformers on the AC plugins?
2. Use binoculars to estimate flight distances.
Set up computer infrastructure: set up computer network (printer, visor sync station), set up hard drives (is 2.5 GB enough?), get software for raw digital images (UFRaw or irfanview), determine how to back up video footage efficiently.
Aerial photos. This can be an afternoon activity. We need to figure out camera settings, ground markers, and practice.
Style persistence in SPP. Collect data every 3rd day.
Move mowed duff in CG.
Discuss projects & teams with everyone.
These could wait:
Finish data collection in last 3 recruitment experiment plots.
Collect CG tissue.
For the past 12 years I've been studying Echinacea angustifolia on this little part of the prairie and I thought I knew a few things about the timing of its flowering. Every year, I've started the field season before flowering begins, so that we have time to get settled in and trained before we start taking data. Just after solstice has been our typical time to start. This year, I had originally planned the first day of work to be 24 June. Ruth & I thought we would want a week to search for seedlings, so we decided 18 June. That start date fit in with Dennison's summer schedule too. But we were a little worried that we may not have enough to do before flowering started.
Echinacea in the common garden started flowering a lot earlier than normal this year. Arg. We are behind in the sense that our equipment hasn't all arrived, we don't have all of out data collection protocols, the crew isn't a well-oiled machine yet, we missed the first days of flowering phenology data for a few plants, our computers aren't set up, reinforcements from Illinois (Gretel, Per & Hattie) arrived only hours ago, etc.
On one hand, I am bummed to feel behind and know that we need to catch up. This unanticipated stress, frantic rushing about, and sleeplessness is unpleasant. However, we will do the best we can, problem solving and thinking on the feet are the name of the game in field biology!
On the other hand I am exhilarated. The unknown is the raw material of science. Research is learning about things we don't understand, gaining new knowledge, making discoveries! We have learned so much about Echinacea and from that new knowledge, we have gained insight into basic biological processes common to other species. But, there is still much to learn, even very basic things, such as what causes variation in flowering time.
Well, when I feel like a headless chicken running about, then I know it's time to make a list. Hmm, a bummed, sleepless, exhilarated, headless chicken. I'll write the list tomorrow.
We ladies of the Raj (Rachel, Amy, Julie) Mahal are officially joining the flogging scene. In an effort to increase our cyber space visibility, and also repudiate rumors started elsewhere in this blog about potential negative characteristics of ours, we have decided to take Jung-Meyers-Briggs personality tests and offer to you, the readers of this field journal, the results. Amy was a iNTj, also known as a mastermind rationalist.... now aren't you glad we have her Stuart. Rachel was a eStJ, also known as a supervisor guardian...hurray she can lead the team and make good food later that night. Julie was a eNFj, also known as a teacher idealist.... so she can explain the significance of the project and keep us motivated with her random facts as we sweat and toil in the field.
Also, we have just been graced with the arrival of our fourth roommate, Amy Mueller.
This morning we kicked off the flowering phenology experiment in the common garden. It was a successful and efficient morning, despite a couple of small errors with our hard data sheets. Hopefully switching to data taking on our Visors on Tuesdays will take care of this. After we finished up in the field, we headed to the local berry farm, where each condo quickly picked themselves a large flat of delicious strawberries. Ian and Josh took pictures; maybe they'll post them at some later date.
Something not to forget this coming week is to get to Stuart our banking info, so that our labors do not go un-payed.
If any future summer residents of the Ande's Condos are T-Mobile users, be warned: the service here is non-existent. All phone business must be conducted 12 miles east of here, which although inconvenient, is quite a nice bike ride.
Julie of the RAJ Mahal here. This is my first blog entry, ever. But I am excited to spend Saturday night flogging.
I'm also very excited to be involved in the KAP project this summer. As Stuart has noted, "aerial photography from
kites is one of the oldest forms of remote sensing of the earth's surface."
Stuart constructed the rig:
Brooxes Basic KAP Kit purchased from http://www.brooxes.com/newsite/BBKK/index.html
We attached the camera, a Canon Powershot S70, and sent it up on a test run on our Flow Form 16 x 4ft, which is suitable for winds of 8-25 mph, but (as we found) becomes increasingly difficult past 15mph.
Our other kite is a G-Kites Dopero, good for 5-12mph winds. It's a bit smaller (6ft by 10ft).
Everything went fairly smoothly until we returned and were frustratingly foiled by technology. We shot the images in RAW format (necessary for the fine scale images we hope to produce) which are supposed to be accompanied by a JPEG thumbnail. Turns out we don't have the software to open and work with these RAW files and we couldn't find the JPEG files anywhere! We have a couple promising leads on programs to manipulate the RAW files - hopefully Josh, our resident techie (would you prefer tech guru? I just don't like to encourage technology. We don't mix, technology and I), will help us overcome this obstacle.
So, as of yet, we don't *really* know how our test run went. The lens had retracted back into the body of the camera both times we sent it up, but based on the number of files we uploaded, it does not appear that it stopped shooting images. Don't know what's up with that. I find it a little troublesome. I don't like when gadgets do mysterious things that defy control.
*Stay away from trees
*Electrical tape is great for affixing the LED over the camera's remote sensor - it's opaque, which is good because the system doesn't work as well in direct sunlight. And it's easy to remove and re-attach.
*Make sure to use the fuzzy tail - increases stability
*Pin the rig on as close to the kite body as feasible/practical (not *too* close)
*When bringing down the kite, hold the wheel vertical as you roll in the line. If you hold it horizontally, the line twists as you roll is, which is bad for storage
*When bringing the kite down, it works for one person (in gloves!) to pull the line down, hand over hand. The other person should stand behind with the wheel to roll in the line. Try to keep up so that the line doesn't get dirty (which, as climbers know, severely shortens the lifespan of a rope)
*A second person is necessary for assisting in bringing the kite/rig down, especially in high winds
*A second (and ideally third) person is necessary for determining exactly where the rig is flying. It's hard to tell where it is (what it is taking pictures of) without people on either side (say, 50m away) for rough triangulation.
*Holding the kite can be tiresome, especially in high winds. Don't be shy about taking turns.
Build a kite-flying contraption. I am imagining something with handles like a rolling pin (so that you can roll and unroll smoothly, without twisting the line) and some sort of a clamp to hold the line in place once the kite has reached cruising altitude. I don't think it should be something that affixes to the ground because you need to be able to walk around (in an attempt to coax the kite into a transect). I don't fish - how do fishing poles work? I presume they have some sort of locking mechanism - perhaps something we could mimic on a larger/cruder scale?
Here are some links (from Stuart):
lots of info and links to good Q&As and safety stuff
good links here!
Abers at Emporia State U
comprehensive, but old
info on rigs
I am sitting here feeling the pain of many mosquito bites on several different parts of my body. I want to scratch them but I know that will only make them feel worse. The mosquitos are terrible here and at dusk you have to go indoors to avoid being eaten alive. I stayed outside to finish planting my garden. After I put on long pants and a long sleeve shirt I thought I could brave the outdoors, but after putting 4 plants in the ground I was forced inside by the relentless attacking horde. I'll have to wait until tomorrow.
Today we went into Alexandria. Alexandria in the only town around with more than 1,000 people. I don't know if that number is exactly right but it gives you an idea. Kensington is the closest town and it has a population of 286. Alexandria is a big deal around here. It's right off of I-94. It's motto is Easy to get to. Hard to leave. We went there to go to the grocery store and the laundromat. It's about 30 mi away. The grocery store is pretty cool -you can go to the website petescountymarket.com. They even have a link to a live webcam of Alexandria there, which you can control yourself with the click of your mouse. To get there click on the bell at the top of the page in the banner. I bought some tomato plants at K-mart today while we were in Alexandria too. I asked in the grocery store if they had seeds but he thought I meant seeds for eating and directed me to the produce department. I asked where i might be able to get seeds to plant a vegetable garden and he directed me towards Wal-mart. He said, and I paraphrase, 'If you're looking for anything, Wal-mart's probably the best place to go'. I have a nice vegetable garden here now at Andes Tower Hills. Andes is a winter wonderland, except that the downhill skiing is a bit lacking. Now thought is hot and stuffy and mosquito infested. There are some beautiful lakes on the property as well as some cool forests that the cross country trails go around and through. I'll put some pictures up later.
Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes. It certainly seems so when driving around here. We probably go by 10 lakes on the 8 mi drive to work everyday and we see many more went we're out collecting data at the prairie remnants. Nearly every remnant has a lake next to it or in it or at least in sight of it. There are lots of wetlands and wetland birds. Everyday while working we see groups of pelicans floating in the sky or cooperatively chasing fish in one of the lakes. But enough of that, this place is also infested with mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, non-native cool-season grasses, and it's freaking hot. The temperature has been approaching 90 for the last two days and will for the next two. it's not supposed to be so hot in Minnesota. It is? As I sit here scratching my mosquito bites. It's 22:44 and I have to be at Stuart's by 8 tomorrow. The Echinacea are flowering early this year. There is a lot of data to collect. I really need to get to bed.
Well, it is 7am on my day off, but I can't stop thinking about science and the possibilities to learn more about how Echinacea fares in the rich community we have in the common garden. Florid, yes, but I am pretty excited about possible data. It is like gold.
Truly, there are tons of projects to do, but the trick is to find the ones that:
1) Can be done in a timely manner,
2) Are interesting and important in advancing our knowledge about Echinacea and prairie plants in general,
3) Are educational for the students (and researchers!),
4) Can be repeated well into the future of the CG or remnants, and
5), Have a good chance of filling a gap in the literature so they can be published in good journals (this, of course, is related to #2).
This last point is not crucial in the moral sense, but crucial in the practical sense, as papers are the currency of our profession, as my advisor, Rick Karban, once told me.
Anywho, as we do phenology every other day it occurred to me that we could also quantify the percentage of ray florets with herbivore damage at the same time. Perhaps some genotypes accrue damage faster than others...I'm not sure if many researchers have looked at florivory over time in such detail. There seems to be quite a bit of damage this year. I did some 'quick and dirty' sampling last year, but did not have the plant IDs recorded, DOH , oh well, live and learn.
We also have to figure out how to measure fluctuating asymmetry (FA) so that we have multiple measurements to account for measurement error. Measurement error is important to quantify because the small deviations from symmetry that we may observe may smaller in magnitude than our error, but we can't know unless we have replicate measurments! One way to do it is to take several pictures of the same plant, perhaps by different people. Or, you could have several people measure the same plant. Also, I wonder if FA changes with phenology or with organ under consideration...
Stuart and I are going to try and run electrical cord from the granary to the CG so that we can run the videocameras for a good long time each day. It is 120m from the granary to the SE corner of the garden, so this will take lots of cord to complete. Since I know very little about electrical wiring, save that you shouldn't stick live wires into tubs of water, I will wait until Stuart gets some advice in Chicago before diving in.
BTW, I took video of the biggest plant in the CG yesterday and didn't see any pollinators in 90 minutes of filming, so perhaps an even longer interval would be better to get good, non-zero data.
Signing off until this afternoon. I never knew I would like blogs, but they are useful, especially if people read them (hem hem)
We should measure style persistence as a measure of pollen limitation when we can (perhaps on Tuesday). Also, damage to ray florets would be excellent to measure. I wonder if damage to ray florets has greater indirect effects through reduced pollination than the direct damage to styles that we have seen?!
here is a series of photos that I shot of colin
Colin would like you to know that he was very angry at the time these photos were taken even though you may not be able to tell from his facial expression
i actually just decided that I am going to put every picture that I have taken of Colin so far this summer in this flog
ok not every picture but almost
Here Colin is bending over to pick something up
Here Colin points awkwardly
Here Colin searches for Echinacea plants
In this series Colin emerges from a dense forest still carrying a large storage container
And this is the series that you've all been waiting for
Colin after a long hard day in the Common Garden
So in the past several days, we've had many interesting goings-on. Jameson has built a garden. We went looking for some baby(ish?) raccoons that Amy saw, but they weren't there. Instead, there were many dead damselflies and dragonflies. We also have a kill jars full of dead insects on our kitchen table as well as a betta fish and some snails. Jameson has also created the next big thing: hard-boiled eggsicles
As far as the Echinacea goes, it was rough work in the '99 garden today. the east side of the garden was initially labeled 1/3 meter short, but we fixed the problems and made stuff work. I actually got a good shot of a pollinator (some sort of bee) and Amy found a snake skin. After today, my tick count is 5 (the tick I took a picture of was named Marty the Martyr)
Well, we are done for the week and it was pretty tiring, but we are doing well! Julie has nothing positive to say, only that our experience thus far has been 'buggy'. Indeed.
We are now kicking back in the mando and the Raj Mahal on an exciting Friday night. So exciting that I am bloggin'. We survived the 99 garden with its crazy rows and snippiness by all. I did have to eat a little crow because of some mis-lableing of rows on my part and the shocking rightness of Julie and Rachel. Needless to say, we consulted them in the inbreeding garden when Colin screwed up (again). He can, however, add much better than me.
Here are some pictures:
don't let this happen to you
Mowing went well today. The crew did a good job. I have some notes:
Rows 10 - 33 got blasted from the east by the grass clipping etc from the mower.
Rows 35 - 56 got blasted from the west.
Row 34 didn't get blasted. Row 34 was chosen at random, row 38 was chosen last year. Each year before 2006 I blasted the whole garden from either the east or the west. That was too inefficient.
Here's the schedule of not-to-be-blasted rows for the next few years:
I ran over 4 flags (loose or bent) and didn't hit any rocks. There aren't very many new gopher mounds. Look for new mounds far N, Row ~ 35, Pos ~925, and Row 56. I don't think I ran over any Echinacea plants. I was running blind in R~40-42, up to P935, and P865 in R10-12. Also, I had to add flags in R 10 far N. The brome is flowering super thick this year. The CG looks so different from last year because of the brome. Some brome infl are eye-level W of the garden in pos <910! Those fence posts in R 13.5 and ~38.5 are annoying and must go. The cottonwoods need to go to too--too much shade. Deal with trefoil & phalaris.
I can think of some things I will do differently next year. I'll only do them next year if I remember. Next year I'll have to look at this flog to find the unblasted row. Here's the plan.
in fall, leave flags in the 98 garden or put in staples
get flags delivered in plenty of time (consider color coordination)
30" are much better in non-burn years
sharpen blade, buy gas
mow entry paths & set up stairs
flag perimeter & unblasted row
mow aisle on both sides of unblasted row
Orientation (print maps beforehand):
wear safety glasses, ear protection optional
place flags 10cm N of each plant
search for plants or staples
emphasize that plants can be difficult to find, but the goal isn't to find every one (measure if necessary to get good coverage in thick areas)
walk E & W in unmowed areas & anywhere on mowed areas
lift legs over rows
pull pins & collect plastic
start flagging in positions 860, 935, 960, 983, then flag on either side of unblasted row
coordinate so rows are flagged before mowing
after a few rows, get folks working rows 50 - 56 & 10 - 16. Don't bother flagging cg96.
Remove duff from all plants in an organized fashion.
meter sticks (we need more, we only have six)
mower sharp blade
gloves for all & gloves for SW. Get the XL; L is too small.
Plan to spread mowing over two days to avoid exhaustion. Sharpen blade in between.
After duff is removed weed thistles, sweet clover, trim shrubs & trap gophers.
To do--cut cottonwoods, ashes in ditch, trees E of CG.
well I just took a shower. Showers are a big event for me because recently at least they are very infrequent. I suppose I should start taking showers more frequently because my current living situation is more civilized than when I am at school and everyone else takes showers more or less everyday so ... well there are many reasons why i should take more than one shower a week here but if you want to know more i think that you should ask me. or maybe you should ask why I think it is reasonable to only take one shower a week. Anyway my hair and beard should be different now because the last time I bathed was last friday at a indoor water park in Ohio in heavily chlorinated water. My beard and hair is naturally curly/wavy but the chlorine straightened it out a bit. Let me tell you: It takes a long time to clean several weeks of oil, grease,and dirt off of you. I don't know if anyone is still reading this but as you might be able to tell this blog is not about Echinacea at all; up until now that is. But none of our lives are completely consumed by Echinacae, except possibly stuart's, so you should not be surprised by the varied content of this blog, and/or field log
and now for something completely different
I'm trying to stay until $13 a week for food this summer because at least I heard that that is the amount that we can get reimbursed. I calculated today that that is less than $1 per meal -in fact it is less than 62 cents per meal. I've spent a large chunk of it already (this being the latter portion of the first week) so if limit my spending to $5 next week and $10 for the remaining weeks i should come close to my goal
I've started to keep a running tally of all the ticks that i've found crawling on me or embedded in me. So far after the 5th day here and the 4th day of work i've found 15 ticks on me -3 of which were attached. I just realized that i'm missing a day so those numbers are approximate. Still that's a lot of ticks and several more than other people have gotten. i seem to be a tick magnet. Also a mosquito magnet but not as to as an unusual extant. I guess that it's not really worse than if i were back at the Homestead, where I perpetually had a mild case of poison ivy and was continually scratching myself and getting caught on the multiflora rose that has taken over there.
I just got a notice that i'm getting paid for the Alumni Reunion Weekend that I was part of staff for back at Denison tomorrow. i thought that I had already gotten paid for that so now i'll actually have some spending money, but i don't think i'll be needing it very soon anyway.
i bought a bag of cherries at the grocery store the other day. They were in a cart and all in bags that prominently said 99 cents apparently because they were very ripe. Anyway the cashier rang them as $3.99 a pound so i ended up paying more than $10 for the bag, which i didn't realize until 2 days afterward when most of the cherries were already gone. i'm going to go in with the receipt next time i go to the grocery store to try to get my money back. That might not be for a while though. Oh well I have to go to bed. Work is at 8 tomorrow because the Echinacae already. There are lots of things to do.
i didn't get to the completely different stuff. too bad
I just finished mowing paths between rows in the common garden. I was so pooped by the time I pushed the mower to the truck, it took me 15 minutes to psych myself up to lift it into the truck (it didn't help that I laid down to psych myself up). I would've fallen asleep listening to the chipping sparrows and a N. oriole, but a mosquito told me she was hungry.
Now I am getting psyched to go back to the CG to look at the flowering plants for our phenology observations. I am shocked how early they are flowering this year. I peeked at the CG on Monday and thought we'd have a good week before they'd start to flower. I don't think they've ever started flowering by solstice before. Recently, the field season has started after the solstice.
These long days are a double-edged sword. We get all this daylight, but that means we can do field work for many more hours. I should clarify. The crew finished before 4:30 and went home--I can work for many more hours.
> (983 - 860 + 4) * (56-10)
That's how many meters I mowed today. Well, I have to subtract
> (960 - 935) * 8
I carried the mower 200 meters around the 99 garden (in 8 trips). Next mower I get should be lighter than what we have now, a snapper 21" steel deck, self-propelled "M" model with a Tecumseh 6.0 hp engine.
Gosh, I was about to say something cliché about getting old & tired, because this seems like such a big job. But back when I was younger (e.g. last year) the garden was smaller!
OK, all this thinking is making my shoulders and back sorer--back to the common garden!
PS: Stuart, remember to bring the gas can back!
Today was a day of firsts, realizations and first realizations. It was our first unexpected change in schedule due to weather, and realization that the early flowering of many plants will mess with pollination experiments. It was also our first day in the Common Garden and possibly first experience with chiggers, as we have many unexplainable itchy red bites. I think that we all realized that it's going to be rough work out there. Mosquitoes swarm all over at all times, the sun/heat is unrelenting and there are thistle plants the size of Christmas trees to deal with. I realized that there is nothing better than a ridiculously long shower after a day in the field. It even seems to make sunburns hurt less, mosquito bites (of which I have many) itch less, and will always be the one place that ticks and chiggers can't get me.
Day 4 of the Echinacea project and still no blog postings from the ladies of the group. Not to pass judgment on the fairer sex, but they seem to lack general motivation. Hopefully their negative attitudes improve with time.
Hey, it's 7:47 in the morning in Minnesota. Notice the timestamp on the blog entry. How do we make the timestamp correct?
If y'all like nerdy blogs, check out this one, made by a guy named Johann in Sweden:
Well, we are off to bed in the men's condo, or the 'mando'. I am excited to use the new shower caddy that Colin assembled earlier in the day.
I think Stuart's idea about measuring anther asymmetry is definitely do-able, especially if we can do some neat batch files to process the pictures automatically. I think this technology exists, as one of Stuart's volunteers did something similar at the CBG.
The field season is off to a great start. We've spent time collecting data on two experiments and we are getting new equipment & gear organized. Not everything is roses though.
We have determined survival of plants in our experimental "recruitment plots." Seeds were planted during fall 2000, 2001 & 2002 in plots with different prescribed burn treatments. We have kept track of survival every spring. Five plots down, four to go! We will write down our equipment list & the protocol for this experiment later this week.
We searched for and found seedlings in three remnants (sap, nwlf & kjs). The goal is to find plants of the 2007 seedling cohort and determine their survival this summer & in future years. We want to compare seedling recruitment & juvenile survival from year to year and among remnants. This project will offer insight into the differences in population dynamics in small & large remnants. We'll also be able to gauge masting in Echinacea.
Distinguishing between seedlings and small plants is difficult. Some plants were obviously seedlings because we could see green cotyledons or brown shriveled up cotyledons. Other plants were the same size as seedlings, but were obviously not seedlings because we could see remains of a dried up leaf from last year. Then there were some that we just weren't sure about: small plants with no leaves from last year and no cotyledons.
Some problems are impossible to solve right now (distinguishing seedlings). Other problems are solvable--and we have a lot of them. We have many new gadgets to get working this summer: kites, digital cameras, video cameras, high-precision GPS, etc. We will push some of our equipment to the limits (like using binoculars to follow flying bees). We're feeling a bit overwhelmed and worried that we won't have everything figured out before flowering starts. And flowering will start soon--one plant at kjs (#1919) looks like it could start flowering tomorrow.
Fortunately, field biologists are a resourceful lot. It is no surprise that Andy & Josh surmounted the problem that we had with downloading large video files.
We will face many challenges in our pursuit of efficient data collection in demanding, harsh field conditions far away from civilization with pressing time constraints. But science must move forward! New discoveries await! We are up to the challenge! Stay tuned to the Echinacea field log to read about new adventures of the Echinacea team...
This is rural Minnesota where we are working
corn on one side and soybeans on the other and little bits of prairie in between
This is part of the Recruitment experiment. Here we are trying to locate spots where Echinacea seeds have been planted 5,6, or 7 years ago.
here Rachel is using a metal detector to find the nails that mark where the Echinacea are. In the background Julie is using two measuring tapes to locate the same nails.
It was a good day around Andes Tower Hill and the study sites. I think one of the top experiences was when Colin assembled the shower caddy the kind folks from the Andes gave to us and I am guessing that it will vastly improve our showering experience. We also got wireless after some skillful negoitiating by Andy. Working was good today, although it appeared that Echinacea was avoiding our study plots today and we only found two plants on one entire side of the whole plot and also found very few seedlings when doing the seedling counts. There were plenty of seedlings at the other group's sites however. Once back at Andes, Jameson broke ground on his garden and proceeded to work the dirt into something that would be palatable to his plants. We debated tilling the bunny hill and turning it into a large garden, but then decided it was too much work. I chased butterflies around the condos, and Jameson promptly laughed at me when I took a spill in my quest to capture the flitting, defenseless insects. Six of us went looking for some poor, orphaned furry creatures, namely baby raccoons, that Amy had found, but we were unable to locate them and instead picked up roadkill dragonflies. It wasn't quite the excitement we were looking for, but it was still good. Jameson's tick count for today was 5 and currently I do not have the expertise to comment on whether this is above or below his average.
Andy’s problems for the summer:
1. How to transfer large (> 2.0 Gb) of video from the cameras to the hard drives. Right now, it is taking 70 minutes per 2.0 Gb, which is really too long. I am hoping that if I can switch to Josh’s USB 2.0 computer the transfer rate will be much higher. This is probably the biggest problem I need to solve this summer, but there is not much time!
Breaking News!: I just used the USB 2.0 on Josh’s laptop, and the transfer speed is about 30 times faster – yahoooo! Now, I just have to figure out how to keep track of all the videos and how to switch them in the common garden without getting totally confused.
2. Deciding which variables to measure for the path analyses. Some we have thought of so far: population identity, inbreeding status, number of leaves, number of flowering heads, # of pollinators visiting per unit time, style persistence, distance to nearest flowering neighbor, distance from edge in the common garden. The final variables of interest would be # seeds produced and perhaps pollen viability.
3. I need to figure out how to test the viability of Echinacea pollen.
4. How to measure FA in the plants. Leaves and inflorescences should be measured in some manner. The disk itself could be measured for radial symmetry, too. On the inflorescences, the petals themselves can be measured, as well as petals on opposite sides of the head, or across the entire head, as it should be radially symmetric.
Some wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) webworm damage. Wild parsnip is an exotic weed found throughout the midwest. It's chemical ecology has been well studied by May Berenbaum and Art Zangerl at U of Illinois.
Well, until I figure out why putting images in directly won't work properly for me, I'll just link them. Click to see the picture. Also, Ian keeps putting stuff in his kill jars. He's shuffling insects from this mortal coil.
Rosa arkansana - Pasture rose
Lilium philadelphicum - Prairie lily
some kind of Bluet - a damselfly
Whilst strolling around Andes Tower- being eaten alive by mosquitoes- I found myself well beyond familiar territory. The black-diamond slope "Warmgear" had betrayed my trust and led me to a farm field much further south than I had expected. In the treck through the soybeans, I saw 2 white tailed deer in the distance. Distracted by their graceful loping, I was startled by an explosion of feathers from a cluster of brush nearby. The most tremendously obese turkey in the history of people was flapping frantically to remain airborne. As it struggled to move away from me I began to think that I could run faster than it could fly. As I continued back to the condos, I started to wonder if it would have been smarter to have attacked the turkey rather than simply watch it fly to safety in the woods nearby. Had I punched it in the head, as I suggested aloud to Jameson and Andy later, it may have helped me meet my $13 per week food budget. I suppose you live and learn.
19 June 2007
Andy McCall reporting here. I drove from OH to Minnesota last Friday. It was a trying commute for a number of reasons. After preparing for the summer and trying to rid myself of a strange contagion I may have contracted in Costa Rica last month I took off from Granville, OH to Chicago, where I was to meet Stuart.
All was well until I hit the hellish highway snag that is Chicagoland. I was not expecting the horrors that I encountered. I WAS however, prepared for tolls on US 90, bringing about ten dollars in change. The first toll came to a grand total of 15 cents. I didn't know that anything, even candy, cost fifteen cents anymore. I used to buy subsidized milk in elementary school for that amount. The next toll was 50 cents - OK, the next toll was 100 meters later and was $2.50. I submit this question to you, dear reader, "What is up with that?��? Why wasn't it $3.00 in the first place? - I didn't even see a darn exit in between the tolls.
OK, enough about tolls. I called Stuart telling him of the construction on I-90, suggesting that I was 40 minutes away. Three hours later I arrived in Highland Park, right across the street from the Chicago Botanic Garden. We stayed for about 30 minutes, chatting through the din of the cicadas that had emerged en masse in the Chicago area. Stuart drove my car and we talked of many things, as we had 6hrs in the car.
After arriving in MN, I went down to Northfield for my 10th College Reunion. It was grand, and saw many a familiar face. I also got to visit Carleton's own prairie restoration, where I had worked years before under the tutelage of Dr. Mark McKone. I took several pictures of prairie plants and their associated insects. From the prairie you can even see Carleton's giant windmill. St. Olaf has copied us and now has a big one right as you enter Northfield on Hwy 19. I picked up Colin Venner at the MSP airport and then we were on our way!
This Echinacea (#11432) got creamed by a road grating truck. It had at least two heads and more than forty-five basal leaves. Being a taproot, it'll likely grow back at some point, but if cars keep driving over it, who knows.
It was raining first thing in the morning so we organized visors, the Trimble GeoXH, fanny packs, radios, & other supplies. We have so many batteries of so many different types!
After the rain stopped we visited two remnants: BTG, one of the smallest, and the Staffanson Prairie Preserve, our largest. Ray florets on some Echinacea plants were sticking up. That's early!
Here's a list of some of the showy flowering plants we saw at Staffanson:
It was quite windy, so we didn't see many pollinators. I remember one Auglochlorella striata and a few large syrphid flies.
After lunch we searched for plants in one recruitment plot (#1 Eng Lake). The winds picked up to 25-30 mph with gusts around 45 mph (43 mph was recorded at the Alex airport).
Back at the house we dealt with paperwork and practiced using the visors.
I am looking forward to a good summer!
Folks arrived Sunday afternoon & evening. They moved into the condos at Andes Tower Hill. It seems like the housing will be good, but they have only 8 beds--we'll need more. Also the wireless wasn't working.
Here's a photo of everyone who had arrived by 6 pm.
L to R: Amy, Ian, Andy, Colin, Stuart, Rachel & Julie (Jameson & Josh were on their way.)
I gave them directions to Pete's County Market for food shopping. They should be settling in--by now, they should be asleep.
I am not asleep. I just moved furniture around so I could sit down at a computer next to the new dsl modem. I figured out how to connect the computer and here I am.
Here's the recap on the trip from Illinois: Andy picked me up after an arduous drive through Chicago. We made it to my folk's house by 11:30 pm. Saturday morning at 8 we picked up equipment from Ruth at the U of MN: computer, printer, survey station accessories (the station itself is in the shop), keys, dissecting scope, etc. Then I went to Metal detectors of Minneapolis at 38th & Cedar and bought a metal detector. I drove to my cousin Kory's graduation party in St. Cloud with my mom and from there we drove to the farm.
We'll start on Monday morning at 8:30. It might rain.
I'm not in the field yet, so this entry might be premature for the Echinacea Field Log. But I am excited for the summer to begin, so here goes...
This is the web blog for the Echinacea Project for the summer field season of 2007. This summer a lot of folks will be working on many great field projects that further scientific knowledge about ecology and evolution of native prairie plants in fragmented habitat. Our focal species is the narrow-leaved purple coneflower, Echinacea angustifolia. Most folks will arrive at the field site in western Minnesota this Sunday. I just set up this blog today. Kudos to the UMN library for making this blogging software available.
We are going to maintain this blog for the summer field season. I hope the blog will serve several purposes. First, we can keep track of the things we do so that we can remember what we did. I'd like to remember all the projects that we work on during the summer, but usually there are so many things going on I can't keep track. In my experience, on any given day in the field, I can't remember whether we did phenology observations the day before or two days before. This is something we need to keep track of because our protocol is to do phenology observation every other day. I hope this blog will help. Second, we can maintain open communication about data-taking protocols. When many people are taking data, e.g. measuring leaves on a plant, it is important that everyone measures in the same way. How much do you straighten a leaf? Do you start measuring at the ground or the base of the leaf? Do you hold the ruler straight up or the direction the leaf leans, etc. If we write down our protocols in a medium that allows easy editing and discussion, then it might help us all measure the same way. Third, we'd like friends and family to know what we are doing. So this web blog will enable folks to know what we are doing. I hope we can figure out how to share images easily.
Who is "we?" If all goes well, everyone working on the Echinacea project will be able to contribute to the Echinacea Field Log web log. (Should we call this a flog?) Folks are coming from many places to work on the project this summer. Students are coming from Western Washington University, Carleton College, Dennison University, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the U of MN. Andy is a professor at Dennison U and is driving to Chicago tomorrow to pick me up. I'm at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois. There'll time for more intros later. I need to pack up equipment & supplies.