Recently in Pollinator Efficiency 2010 Category

Hey All,

It's been a very busy couple of weeks:

On July 27th I spoke at the Garden Club of America Zone 11 Annual Meeting in Lake Geneva. I was there for less than 48hrs, but I still had a wonderful time. I received the GCA's Fellowship in Ecological Restoration to support my Master's project, which is why I was asked to attend at all. I was pretty nervous about the speech, but in the end I think it went pretty well. They were a great audience and after this experience I feel much more confident about public speaking.

After I gave my talk, I was able go see the GCA flower show, which was really interesting. There were some pretty cool displays. I especially like the hats made of flowers, the miniatures, and the photography. They also had these challenge events where everyone was given the same supplies and theme and had a fixed amount of time to create a display. The GCA has some very creative members.

That evening we were given a tour of the lake on a boat called the Louise, where we had h'ors d'oeuvres and cocktails. The boat dropped us off at a GCA member's house for dinner. It was a lot of fun!

The next day I got to hear Kathryn Kennedy, the president of the Center for Plant Conservation, speak. She gave an excellent talk about endangered species and the challenges we face in protecting these high-risk plants in the coming decades. I was totally revved afterwords, so she did her job.

Pictures from the GCA trip:



After I got back from Wisconsin, I had to turn around and finish working on the poster for the ESA conference. After much work, and help from Stuart, Amy, and Josh, I finally finished the poster.

I drove to St. Cloud to print both the FNC poster and Allegra's poster, and then on Sunday Stuart and I went to the ESA conference in Pittsburgh. Mimi, the REU intern from last year, was able to join us for the conference on Monday. It was great to see her again. She's currently working at Frick park as a Outdoorsy type summer camp counselor. She'll be leaving in September to teach English in Guadalupe. Should be fun!

Mimi and I got a lot of great feedback on our poster during the poster session, and I'm pretty confident that with everyone's help we can write an interesting paper.

The poster is entitled: Interspecific Co-flowering Prairie Plants Compete for Pollinators.

Here's the abstract we submitted:


Pollen limitation is prevalent in many species, and can be especially worrisome in fragmented landscapes. Reproduction in the purple coneflower, Echinacea angustifolia (Asteraceae), which grows in small remnant patches of tallgrass prairie in North America, is pollen limited, but not pollinator limited.

Pollen limitation of Echinacea increases with isolation of individual plants, decreases with size of population, and has a strong negative impact on reproduction. However, pollinator visitation does not explain the reduced reproductive success. Wagenius and Lyon (2010), found that plants in the densest and largest populations of Echinacea receive fewer pollinator visits yet have greater reproductive success than plants in small isolated populations, which receive more visits but have decreased reproductive success. Among the many prairie plants pollinated by native solitary generalist bees, interspecific co-flowering plants may either enhance pollination by attracting more pollinators, or reduce reproductive success through competition or interference with compatible pollen receipt (Feldman 2008, Mitchell et al 2009).


We investigated the community of co-flowering species surrounding a plant (floral neighborhood). We measured the effect of floral neighborhood on pollinator visitation, pollinator diversity, and pollination success of Echinacea. We randomly selected 8 focal plants at each of 10 remnant prairie sites in Douglas Co., Minnesota and observed and collected insect pollinators four times during summer 2009. We also identified and counted inflorescences of nearby co-flowering species.

We found strong evidence that floral neighborhood composition influences pollinator visitation of Echinacea. Forty species co-flowered with Echinacea, nine of which are invasive. Co-flowering species richness ranged from 14 in the largest remnant to five in the smallest. Alfalfa, Medicago sativa (Fabaceae), the most abundant exotic co-flowering species, occurred at seven of the sites, while leadplant, Amorpha canescens (Fabaceae), the most abundant native species (besides Echinacea), was only found at three remnants. The presence of alfalfa within a focal plant's floral neighborhood increased the probability of a pollinator visit by 7% (according to a glm with binomial response p<0.03). In contrast, native leadplant decreased pollinator visits by 9% (p<0.02). There is no evidence that alfalfa, leadplant, and Echinacea interact in their effect on pollinator visits. We also collected pollen from Echinacea insect pollinators and flower parts to see if patterns in floral neighborhood composition and pollinator visitation are reflected in pollen loads on pollinators or stigmas.

Here's a small copy of the actual poster:

The main conclusions were:

Neither the community of co-flowering species nor the presence of non-native plants was associated with variation in pollinator visitation.

Co-flowering species diversity was a predictor of pollinator visitation only late in the flowering season. Floral communities, as quantified by NMS analysis, were associated with the presence of non-natives all season long and overall diversity only in the early season. NMS characterizations of species co-flowering with Echinacea did not predict pollinator visitation at any time.

Echinacea neighborhoods with Amorpha, a native, had lower pollinator visitation, while the neighborhoods with Medicago, a non-native, had higher pollinator visitation.
We found no compelling evidence that interspecific co-flowering species influence pollinator visitation to Echinacea in small prairie remnants. The previously observed high pollinator visitation and concurrent pollen limitation might result from low quality of pollinator visits, an hypothesis we are now investigating.

Here's a picture of Mimi and I in front of the poster at the conference:

Now that I'm back in Kensington, it's time to get back to my master's project. The work is never done! This week I'm hoping to do seedling checks for my three plots. Hope I can count on lots of help getting it done!


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Hey everyone-

Thanks to all of you who gave me such great input for my poster and/or the powerpoint!

I attached a PDF of the finished poster as well as my slides for the powerpoint presentation because I know I was freaking out about fitting everything in 5 slides! So you can see how it turned out, and I have 4 extra slides if I get questions. haha.

power point presentation.pptx

Now I need to practice, practice, practice the presentation! I'll post one more flog update for how it goes on Friday. Eeek!


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let me know of you can open this one..


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I analyzed my data and put together a couple of tables and figures.
I do have large standard deviation error bars.. but that is due to the pollinators being so variable. Within the same species, one bee could stay on Echinacea and shrivel a ton of styles while another could spend not even a minute collecting pollen and only shrivel a few styles. But overall, I believe the data gives a sense for which bee is the most effiecient and by how much. Take a look for yourself :)

tables and figures.pdf

one thing that is interesting to me is that each species of bee was more sucessful in pollinating styles that had been 2 days old rather than 1 day old styles. hmmm? Maybe styles that are out for more than a day are more susceptable to shriveling..?

Also, when Gretel compiles the data for CG phenology into a figure, I will use the figure to match up dates for when I did the insect visits and which species I saw most on those days. It should be interesting because it seems to be that in the beginning of flowering and towards the end of flowering, the smaller bees such as Augochlorella appear. Whereas during the peak of flowering, Melissodes dominated and I didn't see any Augochlorella.


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I have some pictures of pollinators, but more to choose from would always be helpful for putting together my poster in a couple weeks.
I know Gretel and Josh said they had some, anyone else?

If so.. I would like any good pictures of Melissodes, Agopostemon, Augochlorella, Ceratina, and Lasioglossum. Preferably on Echinacea.

If you could go through them and put them on a USB for me, that would be greatly appreciated. And I would acknowledge you for the picture if I use one of yours.



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Parent's Visit and the 4th:
On July 1st, my parents came to visit us up in MN. They joined the group for burgers at the K-town bar on Thursday night. On Friday, we explored (Mom, Dad and I) Fergus Falls, which has a surprising amount going on for such a small town. We found a great Art gallery, with some really cool pictures of MN from the air, and visited Phelps Mill, an historic site. We ate dinner a yummy Italian restaurant, recommended by Ian (thanks Ian!) and found a wonderful little cafe for dessert, Cafe 116. Sunday, the 4th was spend with the Wagenius' at Elk Lake, which was a delight. All in all, the parents had a great visit. Below are some of the pictures Mom took:

Orchid Trip:
On Monday, July 5th Team Echinacea (or some of us at least), helped Gretel find and count the endangered Great Plains White Fringed Orchid. I did a mini-report on this plant for my Plant Evolution and Diversity class, so to find out more about the plant see Gallagher_PoW_16April2010.pdf .

It was really fun to visit to a very different type of prairie (wet vs. mesic), and spend a day doing something totally different. Unfortunately, this year the mosquitoes were especially bad, which kind of put a damper on the day. Fortunately, the team ended up have a lovely dinner at Cafe 116, and I think I can safely say that I had some of the best pulled pork in MN.

Some pictures of the orchid trip:

Planting My MS Project Sites:
On Wednesday, we finally began planting the three sites for my Masters Project. It was a huge group effort, and I can't thank everyone enough for helping out. Here are some pictures of the effort:
All Finished! WOOT!

Friday night Team Echinacea went bowling. While I wouldn't say we were horrible, I also wouldn't recommend that any of us, except maybe Laura, join a bowling league. The rest of us were inconsistent to say the least, although I think everyone got a least one strike, so there is hope. That said, I think any bowling league would be a bit... surprised by some of the techniques Lauren employed. Bowling left handed, and pushing the ball under Hillary's legs both seemed particularly successful strategies for her. Personally, I found left-handed bowling to be a complete disaster. Pictures of the fun:
Teamwork gets the job done:
The Under-the-Leg Technique... not so successful, but kinda fun to watch:
Sometimes the fates were against us... for looong stretches of time:
But we had fun anyway:
Ian's Assault.JPG

Et Voila! We're back up to date. 'Till next time!

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So this past week I was able to work on my project because the Echinacea has started flowering in the common garden! So far so good, but it is going slow...

The painting is going really well. I am able to distinguish one and two day old styles wonderfully based on how I am painting the brachts. However, the pollinators take their sweet time to visit my flowering Echinacea head when I want to do the single insect visit. I was under the silly impression that I would remove the pollinator exclusion bag and a bee would come flying to the flower, do its pollinating thing, and let me move on to the next plant. Wrong! Sometimes it takes a bee 30min to and hour to land on the flowering head, which means I am sitting there patiently watching a single Echinacea head for a long time. UffDa!

I do video tape the bees in case one lands that I cannot identify in the field. Plus, it's nice to have video for my presentation later. BUT the video camera's battery dies after a couple hours. So we may have to purchase a back up battery...

I have had 8 insect visits this week so far, and have noticed that they have all been after 10am. Maybe 10 - noon is the peek time for bees to collect pollen? Not sure yet.
The visits I have had are pretty exciting! I have had 3 Augochlorella visits, 2 Agopostemon visits, 1 Melissodes visit, 1 Lasioglossum visit, and 1 Ceratina visit. Quite a diversity!

The interesting thing is: when observing the shriveling or lack of the day after, Melissodes shriveled 1 style and only had a 3 second long visit! Both Augochlorella's shriveled 1-2 styles each and they spent 5-7 min each on the Echinacea head! Looks like they are not very efficient pollinators, most likely do to thier small size and they barely touch the styles when collecting pollen from the anthers. Same with the Lasioglossum, which is around the same size as Augochlorella and it didn't shrivel any styles. The Agopostemon spent a few minutes gathering pollen and shriveled 5 styles! I am curious to assess the shriveling of the other Agopostemon and the Ceratina (another small sized bee) tomorrow because those were the visits I had today.

A concern of mine is all the bags that are on the flowering heads in the common garden. Several people, including myself, are using pollinator exclusion bags. So maybe if the bees know that they wont be able to collect pollen as readily from the common garden, maybe they do not bother visiting as much as they would if the bags were not on the heads. Any thoughts?
The bags may also contribute to a lower pollinator efficiency if the bees are not able to transfer pollen as they would be if the bags were not on :/ ...However, there will be more flowering plants as the season progresses and hopefully there will be a good number of them that do not have bags on them. So I am guessing I will see an increase in pollinator efficiency as the season progresses.

Also Gretel- would you be able to provide me with the peak flowering data from within the common garden when the time is right so that I can compare that to a peak in pollinator efficiency (if I see one)?

I believe thats all for now! I look forward to giving another update on pollinators next week! :)


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Well, it's been almost 2 weeks since my last post. How time flies.


  • Friday the 25th my seed envelopes (of remnant and restoration plants) arrived all sorted from IL. Thanks to my father and all the volunteers for working so hard to get that all done! Great job!

  • We finished measuring the first 9 trays of my seed plugs. I think almost eveyone in the team has been helping with this, so my thanks are profuse to you all.

  • Laura and I have been working hard to sort all of the purchased seeds into coin envelopes. (30 envelops for each species and source (3 species/3 sources) = 270 envelopes; 20 seeds per envelope = 5,400 seeds).

  • Laura and I have also been working on her project together. It's a lot of fun to visit her remnant sites and see how the floral neighborhoods change over time. Her data's going to be very exciting!

  • Early this week I was given verbal permission to plant my 10x10 meter plots of seeds and plugs at Hegg Lake, Runestone Park, and Bob Mahoney's. I will hopefully have all the paperwork done soon for that!

  • I've spent some time working on FNC and pollinator data, but not nearly enough. Hopefully, I'll be able to devote more time to it soon, especially because I have less than 3 weeks to finish putting together my poster! Eeep!

To Do:
The big goal is to get my plants in the ground ASAP! To that end:

  • Today, Laura and I will be marking out my plots.

  • We need to finish measuring the 2nd group of 9 flats. It's particularly important to get the Alive/Dead status for each plug, so I can plan for next week. I hope I can wrangle up more volunteers here, although I know everyone is working hard on their own projects. (Btw, special shout out to Lauren and Hillery who've been helping a lot with this!)

  • I need to assemble my data to create new envelope labels with the location information for the plots, I'm hoping to get that done and and envelopes labeled by the end of the weekend.

Parents are arriving today for a 4th of July visit! Hopefully they'll get here in time to enjoy burger night at the K-town bar and grill, but if not they can meet everyone Friday morning.

We will be exploring Starbuck Heritage Days on Saturday (people are free to join us). There will be fireworks at 10 pm.

Some pictures from the weeks news:

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I realized not everyone can access a .docx file, so here is a PDF file link...

revised proposal.pdf

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Hello everyone!
For those of you who aren't familiar with me, I'm Katie. I attend Lakeland College in WI. I'm going to be a Junior this year majoring in Biology, and I'm excited to be writing my first FLOG entry :)

Here is a file link to my outline of the research I will be doing this summer! If you have any questions or possible additions to the experiment, do not hesitate to comment!

revised proposal.docx

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