Hello everyone! My name is Mimi Jenkins and I'm an REU student with Chicago Botanic Gardens. I am from Pittsburgh, PA where I am a senior (one more semester!) at the University of Pittsburgh double majoring in Environmental studies and French lang/lit and a certificate in Global studies. This is my first real experience spending more than one day in the Midwest and I love it so far. The wetlands and prairies out here are gorgeous and I feel very lucky to be experiencing a new and exciting place and working with such an interesting group of people on such a worthwhile and fascinating project. I have never been on such a flat land or in such a small town, but the flat topography makes for nice biking (hoping I can get my hands on a bike soon!) and the small town is a nice break from the city for the summer. I arrived in Chicago two weeks ago and after an introductory week for the REU program doing lab work on soil samples and such (not my cup o' tea), I met Stuart, took pictures with the help of Jake Friedman of some of the Echinacea pollinators and visitors that are pinned and in boxes at CBG, and did a little research on the nesting habits of bees.
Here is the protocol we came up with for the picture-taking:Protocol for Taking Pictures of Insect Specimens.docx
Here is some of the info I found on nesting of bees commonly found on Echinacea:
Echinacea Pollinators nesting.docx
I am really excited about this field season and I wish I could stay longer! I am really interested in improving my plant and bee identification skills on the prairie, as well as my knowledge of statistics in analyzing data and applied ecology in general. I also hope that this experience will help me to hone in on what I want to focus on for graduate schools in a year or two. I am currently trying to think about what exactly I would like to focus on because everything sounds so cool but I am limited to less than 6 weeks of research so it must be a pretty precise question, such as: does one family or species of bee act as a more effective pollinator for Echinacea than others using the style persistence method, or what co-flowering species are the pollinators pollinating that also land on Echinacea by observing pollinators on other plants or looking at foreign pollen on Echinacea heads. I would like to work in the common garden and in remnant populations to get a good sense of how these questions might differ depending on the community diversity of the remnant and the health of the Echinacea population.
I went out wandering yesterday and I think some of the locals thought I was a crazy person for walking on the side of the road but until I can bike, I will explore by foot. I turned onto the first dirt road on the right off of Kensington Ave and found this pretty hillside prairie remnant at the end of the road. I wanted to go further, but the electric fence kept me from continuing. I saw a patch of something yellow flowering off in the distance. Along the path of the dirt road between two corn fields I saw what I think was brome grass, prairie rose, common milkweed, alfalfa and clover, and some others like thistles that I couldn't identify. I saw a big white bird that Stuart told me today was an American egret. I also saw some more of those cool turquoise dragonflies that are in the common garden. I regret not bringing my camera with me because the view at the end of the dirt road was so pretty--there were relatively few trees and you could gently rolling green hills for miles.