Echinacea at the 2009 Evolution meeting

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I should introduce myself to the new Team - I'm Ruth Shaw. I've collaborated with Stuart and the Team on this project since 2000. I'm a professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. Broadly speaking, my research addresses questions about ongoing evolution in plant populations, and I have found this project on the evolutionary consequences of fragmentation of populations of Echinacea endlessly stimulating!
I'm just back from the joint meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution, The American Society of Naturalists, and the Society of Systematic Biology, where I gave a brief talk about some of our results based on 7-years of data on "Inb1" an experiment to compare the effects of inbreeding and of crossing between remnants. This experiment has been growing in the common garden since 2000, and we have now documented that the degree of inbreeding depression is exceptional, far exceeding that found in other studies. Intriguingly, we have also found that both inbreds and progeny of between remnant crosses harbor more of the specialist aphid than plants derived by random mating within remnants.
A special highlight of the meeting is that our paper about estimating fitness, with examples (available via the main echinacea website), received the President's Award, chosen by the current President of ASN as outstanding paper of 2008 in the journal, The American Naturalist. Quite an honor!
I was out in Douglas County in late May for the early monitoring of seedling recruitment in the remnants, and I'm glad to hear that process is moving forward well! I'm looking forward to getting back out there and working with you all soon!

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