This week has involved a combination of new projects and ongoing endeavors.
First of all, I should mention that the Echinacea Project is hiring field interns for the summer of 2013. See http://echinaceaproject.org/opportunities/ for more information about job openings.
The volunteers have continued making progress in processing Echinacea heads harvested in 2011. We are nearly halfway through weighing achenes from an experiment planted in 1999 and have have obtained achene counts for 3 of the 9 experiments in the main experimental plot. The volunteers are working on counting achenes for the remaining experiments and on cleaning Echinacea heads harvested in 2012.
More projects has meant more people in the lab. On Thursday, we had a vibrant crowd of five volunteers and two student interns.
One of these interns (not shown in the picture) is Jill Pastick, a junior at Lakeforest college who will be working in the lab until May. Her project will involve germinating achenes from one or two ongoing experiments. One of these experiments is examining hybridization between two species of Echinacea: the native E. angustifolia (the one we work on) and the non-native E. pallida. This summer, Shona Sanford-Long (a junior at Middlebury College) performed experimental crosses of E. angustifolia and E. pallida growing in a Minnesota prairie restoration and is currently analyzing her results to assess the success of different parental combinations in producing fertile achenes. The other experiment examines the effects of burning on offspring fitness in E. angustifolia. Last summer, Kelly Kapsar (a junior at Carleton College) recorded the flowering phenology of Echinacea in burned and unburned units of a prairie preserve. Several interns have been involved in cleaning and weighing the achenes from those plants.The next step in both of these experiments will be to germinate the achenes in the lab and plant them in an experimental plot in Minnesota.