March 2013 Archives

This past weekend, three students associated with the Echinacea Project presented their work at the Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference at Notre Dame.

Kelly Kapsar (Carleton College, 2014) spent the winter analyzing her data on flowering phenology in prairie remants and presented her results in a poster.


Maria Wang (Northwestern, 2013) presented the results of her undergraduate honors thesis on pollen limitation in the prairie grass Dicanthelium.


Master's student Katherine Muller gave an oral presentation on her research on the relationship between Echinacea and its specialist aphid.


I should mention that Maria was recently accepted as a Master's student in the Northwestern Program in Plant Biology and Conservation. She will graduate this summer and remain in Chicago another year to finish her M.S.. She will be working with Dr. Nyree Zerega investigating the genetic origins of tropical crops. Although we will miss her in the Echinacea Project, we wish her the best in her next endeavor.


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This week marks several milestones in the lab. First, the volunteers completed randomizing and weighing achenes from the 2011 harvest of a large experimental plot planted in 1999. This experiment looks for genetic differences among maternal populations by combining their offspring in a common environment and measuring a variety of traits, including seed set. Weighing is the last step in data collection for this experiment. Although we have a long way to go in processing 2011 data for other experiments, we are making good progress.

Another milestone this week is the launch of our new online data entry system for achene counts. Bianca Rosenbaum, the web developer at the Chicago Botanic Garden, has created an interface that allows volunteers log into the website, open scanned images, and enter data into a web form. In addition to doing away with paper datasheets, this will improve our ability to catch mistakes, such as mis-labeled scan files. Anne Coughlin was the first volunteer to try the new system.


In other news, intern Jill Pastick has begun the pre-germination phase for an experiment assessing the growth of Echinacea angustifolia x pallida hybrids. This will add to Shona Sanford's work on style persistence and seed set of hybrid crosses. Click the link to read about Shona's most recent findings on Echinacea hybrids: (

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