July 2012 Archives

Howdy folks,
Maria reporting from K-town.

Sunday we had a real day off =)

The weather was good and sunny, but not too hot.

Random tidbits from the town hall:
Shona made oatmeal pancakes for breakfast - they were really yummy - thanks Shona!
Kelly and Shona went swimming at Elk Lake and bumped into the Wagenius family
Katherine found a new trail in the forest at the Runestone Park on her biking adventure
Andrew had a great time at home and arrived at the town hall before 11pm
Lydia spent the day helping out in the kitchen at the camp in Alexandria
I made Irish Soda Bread to use up some sour milk, but still have ~1 cup sour milk (turned into buttermilk substitute, any ideas what to do with it? Pancakes would be easiest, but we just had them)

After the weekend break, it's time for work again! Monday (today) we divided and conquered.
AM - Greg set out his yellow pan traps in his remnants. Stuart, Katherine, Jill, Lydia and I did demo in the remnants. Ruth and Greg came to join us. We found many Echinacea flowering at Loeffler's Corner East, an okay number at Loeffler's Corner West, 2 at Railroad Crossing (Douglas County), and ~6 at Yellow Orchid Hill.
The others (Shona, Kelly, Andrew) did CG1 rechecks and then worked on their independent projects.

Ruth bought some delicious fluffy spongy chocolate cake which we cleaned off the dish.

PM - The two teams switched jobs. Stuart led Shona, Kelly, Andrew, Ruth and Greg in demo at KJs and On 27. The rest of us did CG1 rechecks, and then worked on independent projects.

Here's a file called "Crash Course in R", which might be helpful to folks

Now for some photos!

Flowering Dichanthelium!
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I think this is a super cool picture as it shows 3 stages of Dichanthelium stigmas/anthers emergence. See how the bottom-most spikelet has the stigma just emerging, while the anthers are still inside; the middle spikelet is open and has both stigma and anthers well-exserted; and the top spikelet is closed and the anthers are drooping out from the spikelet.
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Last but not least here's an epic picture from our bonfire last year :D

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Saturday brought a resurgence of the "not-so-bad" weather we've been enjoying this week. Several rainstorms have brought some much needed moisture to the soil. The reason I mention this is that while I worked on my aphid addition/exclusion experiment, I noticed a lot of dirt mounds on plants where aphids were present. Presumably, ants build these structures to cultivate aphids. Some of these were small, consisting of only a few small pieces, and some were large, taking up a large portion of a leaf. Here's one of the smaller examples. The opposite side of the leaf was covered in aphids.


Here's a picture of one of the plants in my aphid addition group. As you can see, the ants are taking full advantage of the situation:


As for other field work, Kelly spent the morning checking the status of flowers for her phenology study. Most of the remnants have stopped flowering, with the exception of one plant at a small remnant and many at the Staffanson prairie preserve. Because the west half of Staffanson was burned in May, Echinacea began blooming later than in the unburned half.

In the evening, we all gathered at the Wagenius family home for potluck dinner and bonfire. I should say bonfires, since there were two right next to each other. Pyromanic desires were fulfilled by all.

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So what do 696 ants look like?
Photo Jul 27, 2 16 04 PM.jpgLike this.
I believe these guys are Formica obscuripes. The Formica genus can be identified by the three very distinct ocelli on their foreheads and the short but prominent frontal carinae, the two dark lines extending upward from the bases of the antennae.
Photo Jul 27, 4 32 41 PM.jpgFor most of Friday I worked through my pitfall traps, with Katherine diligently sorting through hundreds of ants, grouping them by the most similar-looking.
Photo Jul 27, 2 16 13 PM.jpgWe also encountered a few questionable ants which may also be Formica obscuripes, but with highly inflated gasters.
Photo Jul 27, 4 33 21 PM.jpg
The progress is slow, but steady-- by 5pm, we finished 12 of the 144 traps.

Aside from my life in antworld, the other members of Team Echinacea worked on their individual projects and completed a few smaller tasks including:
-GPSing the recruitment plots
-GPSing a few positions in the common garden
-Scanning data sheets for Amy
-Entering data from seedling searches

Overall, Friday was very productive for all of us and we look forward to more days like it this coming week.

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Now that Team Echinacea has (finally!) finished measuring plants in CG1, we've started a couple of new activities. In the morning a group went into CG1 to place staples at locations where plants have not been found for the past three seasons. These staples help us to keep track of distance between plants when measuring.

In the afternoon, almost everyone went out to the North of Railroad and Railroad sites to work on demography. In brief, demography is a way to keep track of plants in the prairie remnants that Team Echinacea studies by finding and taking the GPS locations of flowering plants every year. By understanding how often plants flower and how often new plants flower for the first time, we can get a better idea of whether or not a population is stable.

As a Flog Post bonus, I'm including some haikus that I wrote yesterday morning when we were trapped indoors by the rain. I've written one about each Team Echinacea member's project this year as well as several more general haikus about what we do. Enjoy!

The Echinacea Project Haikus.doc

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As dawn broke on yet another day in Kensingtonville, Team Echinacea arose to a dark sky producing ominous rumbles of thunder. An occasional pitter-patter turned into a steady fall of condensed water vapor. The team members wearily turned to each other and half-heartedly debated whether to arrive at base per normal routine. Some, namely Katherine, Jill, and Greg, decided that it would be best to separate from the rest of the crew for a while and work under the grey skies above. Those who remained in the heart of Kensingtonville hurriedly tried to edit abstracts whilst waiting for the skies to be more favorable. After a few dreary hours, sunrays started to peek through the clouds, and then suddenly burst out with blinding brilliance, stunning those indoors. After the initial shock of seeing sunshine, select members of the crew finished their abstracts and drifted off into the land of unicorns and chocolate chip cookies.

After lunch, the two parts of the crew decided that it would be in our best interest to come back together and work as a brave platoon to conquer the plot that is Caroline's, over yonder at Hegg Lake. After a few encounters with fierce toothpicks and cardinal directions, Team Echinacea prevailed!! (And finished early. Woohoo!!)
Team Echinacea has taken on another difficult task: the task of mastering the Dread Pirate R. And his crew of R.O.U.S.'s (R-scripts Of Unusual Size). R comes to you at night and steals your sanity. But only part of it. There's a big difference. The crew has differing opinions about R:

Those who don't mind it too much:

And those who mind it quite a bit:

On the brighter side of the spectrum, the crew finished the day early, and therefore had more time to lounge around/nap/work on projects. A few decided to go for a swim in the great Elk Lake before dinner (which was quite nice, if I might say so myself).

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Tuesday morning marked the end of measuring in the common garden!!!! It was slightly anticlimactic with only one and a half rows left to finish but it is still rewarding to be finished.

It was a rainy morning so we didn't get out to the common garden until about 10:30, but we had time to pull all of the thistles between measuring and lunch. Now there will be one less prickly plant to avoid when we return to recheck missing plants and contradictory records in the next few weeks.

While the rest of us were working inside or in the common garden Katherine and Jill spent a long morning at work in the remnants performing their aphid and any survey. They made significant progress, leaving only two small sites to finish on wednesday, and found Kelly's sunglasses that she had lost at Staffanson.

We had been planning to spend the afternoon measuring in the common garden, but since we finished earlier than expected we had the rest of the day to work on individual projects. Many of us took the opportunity to prepare abstracts for submission to the University of Minnesota for the poster session we will be presenting at on August 9th. It turns out that abstracts become more challenging to write when you are still floundering through R endeavoring to analyse your results, but as Stuart reminded us, all (or most) of the other presenters are likely to be facing the same challenges.

I haven't been very good about taking photos recently, but while I'm on the topic of individual projects here are two photos that relate to my work. The first one is E. angustifolia and the second is E. pallida. You can see how they have a slightly different appearance.


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This week started off strong with a morning of dedicated work on independent projects; Jill and Katherine visited a couple of remnants to work on the ant and aphid surveys, Maria continued her observations at Hegg lake, and the rest of us enjoyed the cool of the Hjelm house as we put or noses to the grindstone, analyzing our data and beginning to work on our posters. To help us prepare for writing our abstracts, before lunch Stuart gave a quick tutorial on putting hypotheses into words, a task that some of us found surprisingly challenging. After lunch Jennifer Ison gave a presentation which she had prepared for the recent evolution meeting, and we finished off the day by measuring the last major set of rows in the big batch garden. Now only 1 and 1/2 rows left.. Woohoo!

IMG_1934.JPG Jill is busy looking for those ants and aphids.

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Lydia mapped many Echinacea plants in two remnants: eelr and alf. Here is a list of distances in meters between all pairs of plants.


This version of Lydia's R script will read her dataset and edit it and then read the distances and merge them to her compatibility dataset.


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Sunday was a much-anticipated day off for all of us in K-town. Kelly's grandparents were in town, Lydia was off working at Mount Carmel, and Andrew spent time with his girlfriend, Kelsey, showing her around the research sites. Meanwhile, I slept in and made "bark stuff" (an addicting chocolaty dessert) to satisfy my weeklong chocolate craving. I also GRE-ed, made a concerted effort to learn more Italian verbs, and worked on some things for my research back in Maine. Although I don't have any pictures from the day, I do have some pictures of my research sites in Maine for those who haven't seen a heaping hunk of serpentine before. The top picture is Pine Hill, a serpentine outcrop, and the picture below it is Settlement Quarry, a granite outcrop.

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Now that the vast majority of Echinacea are finished flowering (except for the populations at Staffanson and one lonely plant at Northwest of Landfill), I've started piecing together a master datasheet with the first and last day of flowering for every Echinacea head that I have been studying. Please let me know if you have any comments or recommendations for statistical analysis, possible comparisons to other data sets, or better organizational methods!


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Friday morning started out with a quick round of phenology in the common garden. Split between four or five of us it only took about 20 minutes each and it seems like flowering is just about done! From what every one who has been here in previous years, this year appears to be earlier than usual.
After phenology we all had a few hours to work on our individual projects. Although a few people are still doing fieldwork, most of us are done or beginning to wrap up, and moving on to data analysis. I transferred my first data set to R and started attempting to figure out how to organize it with some help from Stuart.

We had an early lunch to allow for a longer stretch of work in the afternoon and managed to finish measuring at Jennifer's plot at Hegg Lake a few minutes after 5pm. We took a short and very welcome break halfway through for watermelon that Jennifer brought. And managed not to loose any surveying pins, despite me forgetting to pick up the pile I made and Maria's attempts to hide one in her flag bag.

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Hi guys,

Saturday morning i woke up at 6am (body clock working on weekday schedule) and couldn't go back to sleep, so i decided to watch the approaching storm, from the safety of the front door of the town hall. Saw some really interesting things that will sound like they were right from a children's book but it was all true.

The sky was a strange yellow glow. i'm guessing it's because of the sunrise before a storm. In the north and northwest direction, there were dark clouds and low rumbling thunder in the background. But in the opposite direction, birds were chirping incessantly. The sun was literally gleaming above the dilapidated barn house. I saw a rabbit prancing across the neighbor's front yard. I watched as storm clouds in the west covered and uncovered a double rainbow. Gradually the storm clouds moved from north to south. Some pattering of rain, and cool lightning chases in the north/northwest, accompanied by louder thunder.

Around 6.50 i went back to bed. Jennifer was already up - she was going to meet Stuart at the Hjelm House at 8, and then go to Caribou Coffee in Alexandria to work on her manuscript for the whole day.

Later in the morning, Katherine went to the common garden to do her aphids experiment, which took all day.

Taking advantage of the cool temperature (high 70s with 10mph wind), Jill went out for a run at 10 and I went out for a slow jog at 11. Lydia, Andrew and Kelsey (Andrew's special friend) went to Alexandria around noon - Andrew was showing Kelsey around. Kelly, Shona, and Jill went to the Starbuck beach in the afternoon and had lots of fun. Apparently there was lake itch at the first beach they went to but they found another beach on the same lake that didn't have the itch.

In the evening, Kelly and Shona went out for a run before going to Alexandria to watch The Dark Knight Rises. Andrew and Kelsey joined them at the movies.

Oh, and the obligatory picture. My camera got really wet in the rain (i foolishly put it in my raincoat pocket), so it's retired from service for now. But I still have tons of good pictures from this summer and the last, so no worries.
2012-07-18 05.47.26.jpg
This was from the day of the storm. The yellow glow I was talking about. That's my bike parked outside my field site at Hegg Lake.

And this is a really cool bug I found on Dichanthelium. It can climb vertically and upside down very well, and it seems to have suction pads on its feet. Photo courtesy of Lydia.


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Here is a link to a csv of my data sheet!

And also, here's the script that I used in R.
Compatibility script.r.txt

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RAIN!!! After weeks of very little in the way of precipitation, Team Echinacea was rained out on Wednesday morning. Instead of the usual field work and phenology, we worked on data entry and other analyses for our individual projects. Fortunately, it stopped raining around 10 AM and I was able to head out to Staffanson Prairie Preserve to collect data for my phenology project. West Staffanson was burned this past spring and a lot of the plants are flowering later than usual. This rain seemed to have jump started flowering and it seemed like all of West Staffanson went from young, green sprouts to beautiful flowering plants over night. Walking into West Staffanson, I felt like Dorothy entering the land of Oz! Below I've attached a few pictures of the flowering plants and pollinators that I saw. Because West Staffanson was burned pretty late in the spring, many of the flowers that have already finished blooming in other remnants were in their prime on Wednesday. In the afternoon, we started working on phenology in Jennifer's Plot at Hegg Lake.




An Echinacea on its first day of flowering.


Flowering Amorpha canescens with a pollinator!

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Imagine walking into a foggy wonderland where all you can hear is the sound of birds, frogs, and the occasional drip of water. Well, you should be jealous because that's where we spent our morning: Hegg Lake!
We spent the entire morning measuring Jennifer's plot, and we are nearly halfway done (I think). Take that, echinacea!
IMG_1590 (2).JPG
This afternoon after lunch, Jennifer gave us her presentation on her work with assortative mating based on phenology. Stuart then briefed us on doing demography in the remnants, where we find all of this year's flowering plants and record data on them and then GPS their coordinates.
And now most of us are sitting around as we eagerly await an all-Amerrrrrican dinner of mashed potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, veggies, and apple crisp lovingly prepared by Kelly and Andrew! Nom nom nom....

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102_7446.JPGTuesday's weather compared to Monday was "not as bad" to speak Minnesotan. While individual projects were tackled and we measured in the afternoon, it still isn't done. The glimmer of hope is that one good day of measurement will finish the task for the year.
In more MN terms, the storm Wed morning was also not so bad as the late July storm last year that uprooted trees and took out power. The picture is from the Runestone Park devastation that Maria and I witnessed last year.

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Pardon the belated appearance of my proposal on the flog, but here it is!
Proposal draft 2.pdf

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This past weekend a group of us went over to Glacial Lakes State Park for some hiking and a change of scenery (i.e. trees). During our hike we passed a few sections of remnant prairie, evident by the presence of lead plant (Amorpha canescens). One of these had what appeared to be a flowering Echinacea angustifolia. Due to a combination of curiosity and habit, I walked over to check the plant for aphids. Sure enough, there they were:


They looked like Aphis echinaceae, though they were slightly bigger than the aphids I've seen around here. The reason I mention this is that the specimens for Aphis echinaceae were collected in our field sites throughout Douglas County. Glacial Lakes State Park is a little under 30 miles away. I didn't collect any aphids, but I thought it was an observation worth sharing.

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Monday was quite sultry, if I remember correctly. In the morning we divided forces to look at flowering phenology in C1 and to finish measuring the plants in Amy Dykstra's experiment at Hegg Lake. She has two experimental plots there: one containing the offspring of inter-remnant crosses and the other containing seeds collected from source populations between Minnesota and South Dakota. She sowed seeds in 2008 and has been tracking their progress every year since. Once we finished finding and measuring plants, Stuart took GPS points for each experimental plot:


While he was doing that, Shona trekked off into the prairie to check on the plants in her hybridization experiment.


Meanwhile, Lydia and I waited by the truck and took advantage of the opportunity for an epic pose. I'd say it was successfully epic.


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With the goal to be done with work by noon, I biked up to the Hjelm house at 6:30 this morning to survey flowering plants in the common garden, and by 7:30 was hunkered down in the Hjelm house basement with the dissecting scope and an army of ants. Since Thursday, I've been identifying the ants I collected from Echinacea plants. Ant ID can be incredibly frustrating, given their small size and minute characteristics. For instance, one of the major differences between genera is the number of teeth on the mandibles! Exasperated after two hours of looking through the scope, I decided to pin my ants and return to ID-ing on Monday.
Photo Jul 14, 7 59 45 AM.jpg
Photo Jul 14, 8 10 06 AM.jpg
Photo Jul 14, 8 12 25 AM.jpg
Later this coming week, I'll also attack the ants I collected from my pitfall traps, some of which have over 100 specimens! I also need to decide how many weeks I'm going to collect from my traps, and how much of the data I can realistically get through before the two poster sessions in August.

Other than my ant party, here's what else was going on today:

--Kelly flew Felix, our adopted kitten, to his new family this morning!
--Shona, Lydia, Maria, and Andrew surveyed flowering plants in the common garden and then headed to Kelly's remnants to work on her phenology while she's out of town
--Katherine worked on her aphid experiment in the common garden

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Friday the 13th of July! Sorry for the late posting.

Weather report:
According to my field notes, at 6.35am at Hegg Lake it was warm, no breeze, and a little dewy. The rest of the day, it was hot and humid, though not as bad as the past few days.

Fieldwork report (morning):
I was at Hegg Lake from 6.35am-10.30am, checking on my Dichanthelium plants for seeds that are ready to be harvested. The unfortunate news: 1 of my experimental culms dried out, and another culm was broken off :( On the brighter side, the potted Dichanthelium from my pilot bulk experiment are doing quite well, and a second one started producing spikelets!

Kelly and Shona were out at Staffanson GPSing all the flowering Echinacea plants, including Kelly's phenology plants.

Andrew and Lydia were in C1 observing and catching pollinators for Andrew's project. Lydia caught one pollinator. There wasn't much activity in the garden.

Jill was identifiying ants under the dissecting scope in the basement all morning. She found that many of them were Lasius and Formica.

Katherine was working with the data from the aphid survey and conducting preliminary analyses. She is planning on performing aster analysis with her data.

Ruth, Amy and Brad came over today. After lunch, we headed out to Hegg Lake to Amy's plots where we measured seedlings that were sowed in 2008. We were out there until almost 6pm, impressive work!

2012-07-13 11.18.02.jpg
Stuart and Ruth :)

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Poor broken culm of Dichanthelium. See how some spikelets were still open?

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Tired Team Echinacea...

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Today most of us started out doing phenology in the Common Garden. Phenology is starting to go much quicker. Hooray! The rest of the morning was spent working on individual projects. Most projects are drawing to a close already. Time sure flies! Jill spent the morning identifying the species she collected from her pitfall traps in the remnants. Maria was found over at Hegg Lake collecting seeds and anthers. She also looked at some dicanthelium at other sites and discovered that they were all mostly done flowering. Kelly and I spent the morning out at our remnants doing phenology and finishing up my experiment. I assessed my last cross for the summer! Some of my crosses were flops due to the caterpillars that ate my anthers and styles. Meanies. How to tell they are there? They leave a TON of frass everywhere.

In the afternoon, we continued to measure plants in the Common Garden. Maybe we're halfway there? We've nonetheless become pros at measuring echinacea. Bring it on!!

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After last week's sultry weather, we've been enjoying a "dry heat", as Greg Diersen so artfully put it. This morning everyone went their separate ways to pursue their individual projects:

Shona, Maria, and Lydia went directly to Hegg Lake and combined forces to measure plants and take GPS points. Shona also photographed Echinacea pallida and E. angustifolia plants as part of her project to assess species traits.

Andrew searched the main experimental plot (C1) for plants where he can observe pollinators. Because peak flowering has passed, his selection of flowering heads is growing slimmer by the day. Fortunately, he has some good observations under his belt and will be able to collect more before plants stop flowering.

Jill and Greg joined forces in operation pit-fall trap. Greg's traps are bowls full of soapy water that he sets on the ground and leaves out for a couple of days. Jill's are tubes full of propylene glycol that she submerges in the soil and leaves out for a week. Today, they set out Greg's traps and collected from Jill's. I have to say: the smell of dead insects stewing in propylene glycol for a week is probably one of the worst smells I have experienced.

I spent the morning removing aphids from plants in my aphid addition/exclusion experiment. Even though it has been three days since my last exclusion, there were aphids on 11 out of 50 plants in my exclusion group. One plant had 67 aphids--all in three days! Those aphids are moving and breeding fast.

This afternoon we joined together in our common goal of measuring every plant in C1. My mother used to say that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Well, today we bit a big chunk off of our elephant, finishing up the sections planted in 1997, 1998, and 1999. We have less than half an elephant to go!

And now for a picture. In addition to helping us keep track of plants, pin flags make great habitat for spiders:

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Today was a pretty standard mid-summer day for Team Echinacea. Because of the early flowering, there is no lack of work to be done in order to keep up with the flowers. In the morning, Jill and Katherine emptied Jill's pitfall traps at the Northwest Landfill, North-Northwest Landfill, and East Elk Lake Road sites. They found lots of insects including thatch ants and several different types of ground beetles. Lydia and I went out to several of the remnants to work on our phenology and incompatibility research. Andrew and Shona worked together on Andrew's pollinator observations in the C1 Garden. After a string of unlucky days it looks like the bees are finally coming out again! Maria continues to wake up before the sun to observe Dicanthelium , although it sounds like they have stopped producing pollen so a well-earned reprieve might be on the way.

In the afternoon we measured away in C1. We've finally made it to the '99 garden! I think we might be half way done!

Here's a picture of our new mascot. He was generously brought to us by Roxy last Thursday and we're all very excited to have such a unique pet!


In case you can't tell from the picture, that's a pretty swelled up tick. Ew!

To end on a slightly prettier note, here's a picture of Monarda fistulosa, also known as Bee Balm. This plant was flowering at Pembina Trail Preserve yesterday, but I saw others flowering today at Staffanson Prairie Preserve. To me they look like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book!


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This morning most of us got a taste of Maria's regular schedule when we arrived at the Hjelm house by 6am for a special trip. We drove three hours Northwest to the Pembina Trail Preserve to help Gretel count western prairie fringed orchids for her work with the Nature Conservancy.

Unfortunately it seems to be a bad year for orchids and we only managed to find one that wasn't even in either of the grids we were searching (In previous years there have been as many as 2,000 in the combined grids). As we were searching we met another group that was surveying the entire preserve, and they reported that they had only found 23 flowering orchids, so I guess we were lucky to see any at all!
here is the one flowering orchid we did see:
Gretel isn't sure exactly what has caused this sad state, but a few of her hypotheses are the late frost, a potential disease, or drier conditions than in previous years.

Although we were disappointed by the lack of orchids, we did see many new plant species and wildlife that we haven't seen around K-town. Here are a few of them:

Spiraea alba
prairie loosestrife- Lysimachia quadriflora
Showy milkweed-Asclepias speciosa
Helianthus maximiliani
along with an insect that I have yet to identify:
I wasn't able to get photos of any of the birds, but we saw northern harriers, red tailed hawks, meadow larks, king birds, bobolinks, a whole flock of sandhill cranes, an upland sandpiper, an american bittern (Stuart claims that they are also called prairie pump handles for the sound they make), and a dick cissel perched on a shrub near the path singing to whoever was listening.
On the way home, after ridding ourselves of as many ticks as possible, Gretel treated us all to delicious locally made ice cream, and dinner at a Mexican restaurant, in that order.

While we were all gone Katherine and Maria stayed behind to work on their projects.
Maria collected dichanthelium seeds and kept track of phenology at Hegg Lake, and Katherine cleaned and entered data.

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Today was a quiet Sunday in K-town. While I indulgently slept in this morning, here's what was going on in the field:

-Katherine, Shona, and Kelly surveyed flowering Echinacea in the common garden
-Andrew successfully observed 5 pollinators of Echinacea today, a much more productive session than some of his sessions earlier in the week
-Lydia crossed some Echinacea and painted floret bracts at Around Landfill and East Elk Lake Road, two of the prairie remnants
-Kelly visited all of her prairie remnants today, observing and recording the various stages of flowering Echinacea in each
-Maria worked with her Dicanthelium at Hegg Lake

Other than fieldwork, a few of us went out to Alexandria yesterday to explore the downtown, visit Big Ole, and nab some Cherry Berry, our favorite self-serve frozen yogurt bar. We also discovered that if you buy a t-shirt and wear it to Cherry Berry on Tuesdays, you can get free frozen yogurt! Yum!
Photo Jul 07, 4 38 44 PM.jpg

Tomorrow, the gang is heading out to Pembina Trail Preserve (between Fertile and Crookston, MN) to count Western prairie fringed orchids (Platanthera praeclara) in wet prairie. Photos to come!

(Again, I can't figure out why my photos always flip sideways when I upload them or how to fix it)

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Despite the wet and windy weather, the morning proceed as usual with each of us working dutifully on each of our respective projects. Jill and Katherine were especially productive, flagging and surveying all of their plants in Staffanson, a task which took all morning until 2. Shona completed her last hybrid cross and Lydia, Maria, and Kelly continued their field work. Unfortunately, I was not quite as successful since the pollinators do not seem to like eating during storms. The clouds retreated in the afternoon and we were able to get a substantial amount of measuring done; It's a large garden, but we are making great progress. The exciting event of the day was a discovery: Josh's Nalgene which he lost in the west side of Staffanson last summer. It survived a year of weathering and a spring burn just fine and still had water in it and a functioning lid. -1.jpg

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Nope we did not sleep in until 9pm. On the contrary, we spent our Saturday morning doing fieldwork! Team Echinacea is really dedicated to our independent projects!

Saturday was a clear day with cool temps in the morning but temperatures rose around mid morning.

Kelly was doing phenology and Lydia was painting bracts and bagging heads for her crosses at the remnants.
Jill and Katherine finished up their aphid remnant survey, and Katherine stayed on at C1 to do her aphid addition/exclusion. It was a full day for Katherine (9 hours and 20 min lunch break).
Andrew went to C1 to watch pollinators, but unfortunately not many were up and about.
Shona was at Hegg Lake observing the last taking photos of Echinacea
2012-07-07 11.25.51.jpg

Yours truly was also at Hegg Lake from dawn till 11.30am, doing Dichanthelium pollen addition (only 4 spikelets needed pollen addition, looks like the Dichanthelium are finishing up flowering!)

One of the great things about doing fieldwork in the early morning is the chance to witness spectacular views of the outdoors. I stopped several times on the way to my site to get pictures of this magnificence:

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5:32am on Kittleson Road.

In the afternoon, some of us chilled out at home, took naps, went for a run, did groups abs exercise. Kelly, Lydia, Jill and Shona went to downtown Alexandria for some sightseeing and groceries. After they got back (around 8pm), we started making pancakes (gluten free corn pancakes, Katherine's recipe) and Kelly's authentic Spanish dish Tortilla Espanola. The pancakes turned out to be scrambled as we did not know the secret (=patience!). Thanks to the help of Jill and Shona, we managed to commence dinner at 9pm. After dinner, we all helped clean up. Then everyone (except myself because I had to get myself to bed) played bananagrams.

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yay Kelly!

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After three very hot days, the humidity dropped slightly today, to the point where we weren't all sweating just standing outside, and there was even a nice breeze off and on.
As usual most of us spent the morning working on individual projects.
Kelly and Lydia helped Katherine and Jill with their projects and collected lots of ants.
Gretel and Andrew have teamed up to add a new piece to Andrew's pollinator efficiency project where they will paint the bracts of pollinated styles, germinate seeds, and determine their genetic heritage to gain a better idea of how much pollen bees spread and from where (maybe one of them will explain more about that later).
Maria and I were out at Hegg Lake again, but it looks like I'll be done with my crosses by the end of the week! So soon I'll be able to start the next part of my project and help more with the main group work.
In the afternoon the whole crew went out into the common garden to work on measuring and we worked quickly enough that we even managed to finish a little bit early.
It's only my fourth week here but I already feel like the colors of the prairie and the flowers I see are changing.
Here is a photo of one of my favorites that I'm beginning to see less frequently.
Lilium philidelphicum:

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We were all having so much fun on the 4th of July that I forgot to write the events of the day.

Technically, the 4th of July is a day off for the Echinacea crew. Plants don't celebrate national holidays, so we spent the morning assessing flowering phenology in the main experimental plot. After that, Andrew experienced a series of unfortunate events that kept him from observing pollinators. On the upside, he learned some valuable lessons and made a new friend.

Because aphids don't take holidays either, I spent the latter part of the morning visiting plants in my aphid addition/exclusion experiment to remove aphids from the exclusion group. The goal of my experiment is to capture the effects of aphids in natural conditions--i.e. no cages or bags. That means that in order keep aphids off of the plants in the exclusion group, I need to visit them every few days to remove them by hand. For fifty plants (plus fifty more in the addition group) that's a lot of footwork.

We celebrated America's national holiday with a picnic at Elk Lake. We crammed in as many all-American activities as we could: potlucking, canoeing, sand-castle building, frying in the sun. If things weren't American enough, Stuart brought a print-out of the Declaration of Independence, which we all took turns reading around the picnic blanket. Go America!

I didn't get a good group picture, but here's a cute shot of Jill, Shona, and Kelly:


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Who needs a sauna when you have the great outdoors? Yes, it was another hot and sticky day in Kensington, and we took it on and beat it. This morning, Katherine, Jill, and Lydia went to several remnants while Katherine used Sulu, the GPS, to find last year's and this year's flowering plants to use for ant and aphid surveys, and Lydia performed crosses on several plants at East Elk Lake Road and Around Landfill. Bug Catcher Kelly and Bug Catcher Andrew used Sweepnet in the Common Garden to collect pollinators. It was super effective! Shona and Maria were found over at Hegg Lake performing/analyzing crosses on echinacea and dicanthelium. This afternoon (or rather, last afternoon), a number of us continued measuring all the plants in the Common Garden. We're 1/4 done!!!

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Monday was incredibly hot in Kensington, but the heat could not keep Team Echinacea from their work! Everyone is very busy working on their individual projects. Some members are beginning to get results in the form of shriveled styles, aphid counts, video footage of pollinators, and the end dates for Echinacea that have already finished flowering! The first flower to finish up in my phenology experiment was done flowering on Sunday, July 1st! Isn't that crazy? It seems like it'll be an early season for Echinacea this year.

Other than individual projects, a few members of the Team went out and continued with phenology in C1 Monday morning. We also had a crew go out in the afternoon. They finished measuring in the inbred 1 garden.

At the end of the day, everyone cooled off on the porch of Hjelm house with some refreshing watermelon slices.


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(Aghh I just finished writing and then when i tried to publish the site told me that my session had expired and of course I lost the whole blog post T___T )

Today was a very hot and humid day. Temperatures into the 90s, feeling like 100. Sweaty sweaty sweaty.

Some of us accomplished field work.
Andrew was in C1 this morning painting bracts and bagging Ech flowers.
Katherine was also in C1 doing her aphid add/exclude experiment.
Shona was out at Hegg Lake for 4 hours painting bracts and observing crossed styles.
I (Maria) was also at Hegg Lake (for my own reference from around 10.30 - 4.40pm) surveying Dichanthelium inflorescences I've been tracking for the past week or so, and more importantly, finding plants for my pollen limitation experiment. I have 31 plants flagged and 62 inflorescences twist-tied. I'll be initiating the experiment tomorrow, so I should be in bed now (hence, I'll give more details in a later post).

To end off the week, here's a special 6-leaved Virginia Creeper (they are usually 5-leaved) I found in the 99 south garden. Hope it brings everyone good luck!
2012-06-30 10.52.29.jpg

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