September 2012 Archives

Now that the summer field season has come to an end, it is time to focus on what's going on in the lab at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. I am taking over for Josh as lab manager and have spent most of the week learning my way around the lab.

Since I arrived, the two major tasks for the volunteers have been counting, randomizing, and weighing achenes from heads collected in 2011.

Here is Aldo, using the computer to count achenes from a scanned image:

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Once we have a count of achenes for each head, we select a random sample for weighing. Here is Char, randomizing achenes based on a numbered grid:

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As for the 2012 harvest, we brought a little over 500 heads from the main experimental plot. This is much less than the 2890 heads collected last year. Our haul from this year also includes heads from Kelly's phenology study, heads from Shona's hybridization experiment, and a sizable collection of ants from prairie remnants. We have plenty of work in store for the coming months.

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Stuart is back!

While Stuart worked on computer stuff - prepping for rechecks at Landfill and nearest neighbors at Staffanson - Katherine and I finished off demo rechecks at Aanenson.

Apart from computer stuff, Stuart also finished seedling refinds at Randt (2 there), then set out for demo rechecks at Steven's Approach. Katherine and I joined him after Aanenson. The three of us finished demo rechecks at a rate of ~1 plant per minute.

After lunch, we set out for demo rechecks at Landfill. On the way out we had an interesting and informative chat with Steve, a beekeeper about bees and pesticides etc.

At Landfill, we worked as a trio again. While Stuart staked with GPS, Katherine & I did demo, leapfrogging plants. We finished off 120 recheck points in about 2 hours, so again, rate of 1 plant per minute. We also flagged and demo-ed sling refind plants while at Landfill.

Lastly, we "(took) a moment to revel in the prairie that hasn't been turned into landfill". And rewarded ourselves with rootbeer floats. Katherine and I had too much ice cream that we didn't have much appetite for dinner.

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Shelby, one of the PhD students working with Ruth, departed for St. Paul today. So only Katherine and I are left in the big town hall. I guess we poured ourselves into fieldwork as we got a lot done today. In the morning we finished demo rechecks at KJs, then flagged seedling refind plants at East of Town Hall. We returned to Hjelm House for lunch, then set out for Nessman, finished seedling refinds there (total 6 plants). We also finished seedling refinds at East of Town Hall (5 plants). From there we headed to Aanenson for demo rechecks, and got almost halfway done! We also had fun taking photos of prairie, ourselves and cows at Aanenson.

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It's quiet in the town hall. After Kelly and Jill left on Saturday, Maria and I had the place all to ourselves. We decided to use our Sunday to make a dent in the Echinacea Project to-do list.

First, we completed seedling refinds at three small sites (NWLF, NNWLF, and SGC) and made it a third of the way through a fourth (NESS). We also completed demography rechecks at Woody's. This entails reconciling errors from this year's census and collecting data on plants that flowered last year.

Woody's happens to be one of Maria's favorite sites. Notice the joy:

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Hey folks, it's Maria. Sorry for late reporting - the post I had written earlier was lost due to internet fuss, and I didn't have the heart to rewrite everything again. So, unfortunately, you'll have to settle for a concise report.

And yes this time I'm writing in a text editor first before copying and pasting onto the flog.

Friday was Kelly and Jill's last day.

In the morning we finished demo rechecks with 2 teams at Staffanson, while Kelly finished harvesting her heads.

After lunch Stuart went to K-town to pay rent and utilities, while the rest of us did our projects/ cleanup. When Stuart returned we went to Staffanson for seedling refinds. Stuart used the GPS to find and flag focal plants, and did a few sling refinds. Katherine and Kelly resolved a particularly complex circle - the plant by the road. Jill and I worked on a few simpler circles.

We celebrated the end of the day with rootbeer floats. Dinner was pizza and supper was black bean brownies, sending off Kelly and Jill with a flourish.

Photo courtesy of Katherine.
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p/s 31 August is Malaysia's National Day! Selamat Hari Kebangsaan to all fellow Malaysians :)

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