August 2011 Archives

Was tidying up my data on Dichanthelium over the weekend and came up with a summary of sorts.

Here's the summary of seed/plant counts & phenology data.

Here's the raw data + notes + occasional story to help jig my memory :P

I didn't include counts from Return A (aka 2nd round) because I didn't start counting seeds until the 3rd round. (I did not realize that I could count the seeds by merely looking into the envelope until Amber Z suggested it....oops!) 500-600 seeds would be my guess for the seed count for that week.

I have yet to harvest from Staffanson this week (Return G), hence the blank.

Let me know if you think of anything that'll improve the dataset and/or summary! Thanks!

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Heya! Here's Maria reporting from the Town Hall.

Many of our team members had returned to school/civilization in the past 2 weeks: Nicholas, Lee, Amber Z, Amber E, Gretel, Per, Hattie, and Stuart. Thanks to Northwestern's quarter system, Katherine, Josh and I are still here. I'll be leaving next Saturday, Katherine the week after, and Josh two weeks later.

For the past week, we've been continuing to work in the field while Stuart was at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Here's a brief recap of what we did:

Monday: Katherine did C1 Phenology & started harvesting while Josh and I finished GPSing flowering Echinacea at Krusemark (after getting stuck with the truck, the GPS went dead on us - Friday was definitely not our lucky day). We joined Katherine and did harvesting for the rest of the day.

Tuesday: Harvesting at Hegg Lake C2 garden & my last round of Dichanthelium harvesting on the way in to C2 and at Loeffler's Corner. After lunch, we started flagging plants for Seedling Refinds at East Elk Lake Road, and then got started on a few plants.

Wednesday: Katherine worked on C1 Phenology and her aphid experiment, while Josh and I went out to GPS and harvest Dichanthelium at Loeffler's Corner, Hegg Lake, and Staffanson. We finished GPSing all Dichanthelium sites! After lunch, we continued seedling refinds at EELR.

Thursday: While waiting for the field to dry up, Josh went out to GPS the Astragalus planted in the C1 ditch and his grasses plot. Katherine and I worked on indoors stuff and our own projects. After that we went to EELR and finished seedling refinds for all but 2 plants that would require extra information (like missing maps). After lunch, we did seedling refinds at East of Town Hall.

Friday: Aphid survey and C1 harvesting took us the whole day. Conference call with Stuart at lunch. Josh discovered grapefruit sprouting from seeds in his grapefruit at lunch. Corn-on-the-cobs and lovely eggplants made our day. Big thank you to Bob Mahoney & Dwight & Jean :)

The weather is cooling up so we'll be starting work at 8.30am again. Stuart will be back on the field tomorrow. Hope we'll have another honest week's worth of work! :D

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IMG_6159 crop.jpg

5 Crew members hiked out to Krusemark's to rescue Josh and Maria. The truck was stuck in a hole in a very soft 2-track. Order has been restored to the last field day for many of the crew. Josh, Maria, and Katherine will continue working for another few weeks and hopefully remember to stay to the LEFT!

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My first goal of the crossing attempt was to determine the rate of floret emergence. The second major challenge was to isolate individual florets so that I could control pollination. I first found suitable plants without any emerged florets, then covered the terminal spike with a mesh bag that was secured to the stem using a twist-tie. Stems were supported by tying them loosely to a pin-flag. Then, I marked the pin-flag with labeled fluorescent orange flagging. I followed this procedure for each of ten haphazardly selected plants at the Nice Island remnant.

To examine the rate of floret emergence, I visited plants every two to three days. The first burst of flowering occurred during hot days in mid-July. Following the first 2-3 rows of opened florets, I secured a length of embroidery floss around the spike to demarcate emerged florets from the still closed floral buds. I then immediately replaced the mesh bags following belt application. I determined that florets opened at the rate of one to two rows per day, progressing from the bottom to the top of the spike.

This species is primarily outcrossing. Pollination was attempted using haphazardly collected pollen at the same site with fresh toothpicks. Pollen was stored into new microfuge tubes in the freezer. I later applied this random donor pollen to floret stigmas at ten plants.

This crossing protocol had some challenges. First, the close organization of florets on the inflorescence made individual crosses impractical. Second, a relatively delicate stem did not allow for snug closure of the mesh bag and twist-tie, resulting in insects inside the mesh. Third, the size of the mesh (aperture size) was such that most stamens poked out through the mesh. It was concluded that crosses of this species will require a different approach.

For pictures, visit the Dalea page at The Echinacea Project

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Today is my last day with in Douglas County, MN for the summer. I have been trying to get everything together before I go, and so this post will include some files that do a bit of wrapping up from my independent project.

Here is the project status report which summarizes where certain information is located. Some of these rely on accessing our shared drive, so sorry for some of the file locations that don't make sense outside of the Hjelm house: ProjectStatusFormNG.doc

I have also quickly summarized my results so far, updated my methods, et cetera. Here is that file: Echinacea Project Summary 15 August 2011.doc

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We made an Echinacea Project float and participated in the annual Harvest Festival Parade in Hoffman, MN. It was great fun!


This is how our float was announced... "Native prairies are very rare in Minnesota, but there are several prairie remnants in the Hoffman area. Every summer a team of scientists from around the country comes to study the biology, conservation, and restoration of prairie plants and insects. They are based in the Hoffman - Kensington area. If you see members of The Echinacea Project working on a hillside or in a ditch, ask them what they are doing!"


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Team Echinacea is busy in two states! The Minnesota crew is working in the field and the dedicated crew of volunteers at Chicago Botanic Garden in Illinois is working in the lab. This panoramic image of the lab, taken by Bob Mueller, shows volunteers counting Echinacea seeds and taking random samples for weighing. Click & drag the image to see all 360 degrees!

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I have been working some on my R analysis, and hope to get some statistics time in to help me better analyze my data. Here is what I have so far. I have reorganized my script since the last version to have a more question-based flow, and have changed some of the tests I perform.


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H. helianthoides appears to be self-incompatible. Here's the data I collected:
I've also started my data analysis in R. It's not done yet, but here's what I have so far:
Data Analysis.txt
Basically, styles persist significantly longer when self-pollinated or not pollinated than when cross-pollinated. However, in the top rows of florets on each flower head, style persistence does not differ as much between the treatments (because all the styles in these rows shrivel rather quickly). Therefore, when using style persistence to study other aspects of this species' breeding system (ex. pollinator efficiency, compatibility of specific individuals), one should use the bottom several rows of florets. In these rows, cross-pollinated styles always shrivel within three days of pollen application, whereas styles that do not receive compatible pollen never shrivel so quickly.

As I mentioned before, I was unable to collect much quantitative data about C. palmata style persistence. But I did notice some things that might be helpful to anyone interested in studying this species further. The following document gives a brief summary:
C. palmata Summary.doc

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During the last week of July, in addition to working on our independent projects, we spent lots of time measuring in the Common Garden. It's kind-of like a yearly check-up for all the Echinacea plants there: we count their leaves and rosettes and heads, measure their stems and longest leaves, and check them for bugs or other damage.
However, this past Monday we were forced to take a break from measuring due to a huge storm! The wind knocked down lots of trees. One landed right on the Hjelm house roof! Luckily there wasn't much damage, and everyone is safe and sound.
Tuesday was also eventful, but in a different way: It was Callin's last day with Team Echinacea before heading back to New Mexico to teach for another year. Good luck Callin! We miss you!
Later in the week, we finished measuring in the Common Garden and started demography. Demography is when we visit all the remnants in the Echinacea Project's study area to locate and collect data about flowering plants. It's been fun to visit some of the sites I hadn't been to before, and to see how the different land-use history of each has affected the plants that grow there.
Then on Friday we went to Staffanson Prairie Preserve to check on the seedlings we planted there earlier this summer. It looks like mortality was pretty high, but we only finished searching about a third of the planted area, so maybe the seedlings are doing better in the rest of the plot. I guess we'll find out next week!

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