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Dear All,

This is Andy McCall, I am studying pollination and herbivory with Stuart and Ruth and am based, this summer, at Denison University, where I teach.

You may remember me through my witty or witless posts last year on this flog; it has been a long time since I have posted anything, but...

Together with Colin Venner (on the crew last year) and Monique Brown, both of Denison, I have cobbled together a few small videos of pollinators we observed last year. We have over 800h of video to watch and we are more than halfway done!

Anyway, I am going to try and post a few videos of known pollinators and a few unknowns -- I would love it if anyone might be able to identify the unknown bee -- we have several, but it is hard sometimes to see characteristics on the video.

I hope the flowering commences soon!

yours, Andy

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The cameras were over-heating filming under the hot sun all day: so Andy bought hats for all of them to wear.


A protocol for Team Video is in the early stages, and there are many aspects to consider. While it started slow, we have found a relatively quick and efficient system for placing cameras, taking down and storing cameras, and uploading videos. Unfortunately, many additional challenges await.


We forgot our list of what specific heads to video for each plant, so I decided, in the field, to just video the one with a twist tie color that comes first in the alphabet. I think we'll use this method from now on as it is at least haphazard and it's easy to remember.

Also, three of our rigged batteries failed immediately. I hope my big batteries from B and H come soon!

Video Andy

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We have finished two weeks of the summer field season and I feel like we haven't settled into a routine because we have been doing something new and different each day. It's exciting.

Here's a recap of accomplishments this past week...

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Well, I got to the farmhouse early to get ready for videorecording. Put the tripods in the big blue tubs for easy transport to the common garden, and then worked on getting random assignments of plants, which were kindly printed out by Stuart.

After assigning plants to different cameras, Colin and I walked briskly to the CG to set up everything. It took much longer than expected, partly because it was the first time and partly because I am really slow. I'm not sure why -- I like to be careful and I have always been the slow one in the field, oh well.

One camera did not work after plugging in the doctored battery, so we pondered over it for quite a while. What was more alarming was that even the Sony-supplied battery stopped working in that particular recorder! I was worried at that point, so we tried another Sony battery and camcorder along with the doctored battery and the same horrible thing happened again -- no recording and the original battery stopped working! So, we hightailed it back to the farmhouse to figure things out.

After trying different combos of batteries, doctored connectors, and such, we determined that one of the doctored batteries was to blame. Either it wasn't charged enough, or maybe too much -- I will have to check with the voltmeter to find out for sure. It was a relief to know that nothing was permanently damaged -- I am nervous about this whole enterprise as it has been quite expensive! But, I am hoping that the data will be worth it.


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I seem to have been shanghaid into this team, at least in a supporting role. Andy bought some sort of super-batteries, which seem to have a different connector than the Sony Handycam cameras he has. So he calls on me to solder connectors for them. Turns out, our hack job only works on the newer models of Handycam, though we're working on getting the older ones to not throw up an error.

To get the newer ones working, we plug in the original battery, plug our hacked battery into the external power port, then remove the original battery. Doing it any other way makes the camera throw an error and not turn on fully.

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Here is a draft for the video protocol. I'd love any useful comments you may have; it is definitely a work in progress, so if you read something and it isn't clear, please let me know and I will change it. Thanks, A.M.

Protocol for recording pollinators:
v.1.0 (Jun 27 2007)


List of heads to video
A few (~5) pin flags
Five 3 x 5 in. cards and a sharpie
Set of camcorders and battery packs
A radio

1. Get a list of heads that need to recorded from Andy the evening prior to the actual recording date. Each person will be responsible for 3-4 heads for that recording day.

2. Get to the farmhouse at 8am sharp so that you can start recording for sure by 9am.

3. Make a list of 'cue cards' for each head that you are to record. This involves writing:
plant location (row and position), color of twist tie and date on a 3 x 5 in. card. This is the first thing you will 'film' when going out to the CG, so that we can match up videos to the correct file.

4. Go to each head on the list and make sure that it is still flowering. If not, then add another plant (we'll supply > 5 heads per list), and make a note that the originally selected head is not flowering. If the plant IS flowering, then place a flag next to it so that you can find it easily. Go to the next head on the list.

5. Next, get the correct camcorder and battery (labeled A-J), put it on a tripod and put it in position over the inflorescence (head). The ideal distance is about 1 ft. away from the head with the camera zoom at about ½ max. zoom. You should be able to see the entire head; try to imagine identifying bees using your recorded image and adjust accordingly. Take a quick video of your 'cue card' for each head and then turn off the camera.

Set up all of your cameras first, before starting to record for pollinators. We want to start them all at the same time, so you will need to coordinate with other members of TEAM VIDEO to start synchronously (using your radios).

Make sure that there are no big branches, stems, twigs, etc. that could possibly wave in front of the camera, thus obscuring the inflorescence.

6. At more or less the same time, go to each camera and press the red 'record' button. Then, skedaddle away so that you don't influence the pollinators!

7. At 4pm, go and stop each camera. Disconnect the batteries and return the camcorders and batteries to Andy. He'll upload the video to a PC and re-charge the batteries for the next round of filming!


Trying to make sense of the batteries!

For the camcorders, the batteries themselves carry a charge of 7.2V and 4.9 Wh. But, the AC adapter's output is 8.4V and 1.7A. Which to use? Perhaps the adapter is higher because there is some resistance in the cord going to the camcorder, but maybe I am just making that up.

Here is a link to a promising product, a 8.4V NiMh battery with a charger included! 40 bucks, though, so it would be $400 for all 10 cameras. Well, this may be worth it...would love your thoughts on this, SW.

There is a nice primer on choosing batteries here.

For our purposes, we can calculate battery capacity using the formula:

Ah = Watts x Time (h) you want to run the camera / voltage needed for the camera


Ah = 3W x 8h / 7.2 V = roughly 3.3 Ah or 3300 mAh

Here's a nice closeup of styles waving in the breeze and some shameless anthers shedding pollen:


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Dearest floggers:

Well, it is 7am on my day off, but I can't stop thinking about science and the possibilities to learn more about how Echinacea fares in the rich community we have in the common garden. Florid, yes, but I am pretty excited about possible data. It is like gold.

Truly, there are tons of projects to do, but the trick is to find the ones that:

1) Can be done in a timely manner,
2) Are interesting and important in advancing our knowledge about Echinacea and prairie plants in general,
3) Are educational for the students (and researchers!),
4) Can be repeated well into the future of the CG or remnants, and
5), Have a good chance of filling a gap in the literature so they can be published in good journals (this, of course, is related to #2).

This last point is not crucial in the moral sense, but crucial in the practical sense, as papers are the currency of our profession, as my advisor, Rick Karban, once told me.

Anywho, as we do phenology every other day it occurred to me that we could also quantify the percentage of ray florets with herbivore damage at the same time. Perhaps some genotypes accrue damage faster than others...I'm not sure if many researchers have looked at florivory over time in such detail. There seems to be quite a bit of damage this year. I did some 'quick and dirty' sampling last year, but did not have the plant IDs recorded, DOH , oh well, live and learn.

We also have to figure out how to measure fluctuating asymmetry (FA) so that we have multiple measurements to account for measurement error. Measurement error is important to quantify because the small deviations from symmetry that we may observe may smaller in magnitude than our error, but we can't know unless we have replicate measurments! One way to do it is to take several pictures of the same plant, perhaps by different people. Or, you could have several people measure the same plant. Also, I wonder if FA changes with phenology or with organ under consideration...

Stuart and I are going to try and run electrical cord from the granary to the CG so that we can run the videocameras for a good long time each day. It is 120m from the granary to the SE corner of the garden, so this will take lots of cord to complete. Since I know very little about electrical wiring, save that you shouldn't stick live wires into tubs of water, I will wait until Stuart gets some advice in Chicago before diving in.

BTW, I took video of the biggest plant in the CG yesterday and didn't see any pollinators in 90 minutes of filming, so perhaps an even longer interval would be better to get good, non-zero data.

Signing off until this afternoon. I never knew I would like blogs, but they are useful, especially if people read them (hem hem)


We should measure style persistence as a measure of pollen limitation when we can (perhaps on Tuesday). Also, damage to ray florets would be excellent to measure. I wonder if damage to ray florets has greater indirect effects through reduced pollination than the direct damage to styles that we have seen?!

;) Andy

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