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before summer

I’m not in the field yet, so this entry might be premature for the Echinacea Field Log. But I am excited for the summer to begin, so here goes…

This is the web blog for the Echinacea Project for the summer field season of 2007. This summer a lot of folks will be working on many great field projects that further scientific knowledge about ecology and evolution of native prairie plants in fragmented habitat. Our focal species is the narrow-leaved purple coneflower, Echinacea angustifolia. Most folks will arrive at the field site in western Minnesota this Sunday. I just set up this blog today. Kudos to the UMN library for making this blogging software available.

We are going to maintain this blog for the summer field season. I hope the blog will serve several purposes. First, we can keep track of the things we do so that we can remember what we did. I’d like to remember all the projects that we work on during the summer, but usually there are so many things going on I can’t keep track. In my experience, on any given day in the field, I can’t remember whether we did phenology observations the day before or two days before. This is something we need to keep track of because our protocol is to do phenology observation every other day. I hope this blog will help. Second, we can maintain open communication about data-taking protocols. When many people are taking data, e.g. measuring leaves on a plant, it is important that everyone measures in the same way. How much do you straighten a leaf? Do you start measuring at the ground or the base of the leaf? Do you hold the ruler straight up or the direction the leaf leans, etc. If we write down our protocols in a medium that allows easy editing and discussion, then it might help us all measure the same way. Third, we’d like friends and family to know what we are doing. So this web blog will enable folks to know what we are doing. I hope we can figure out how to share images easily.

Who is “we?” If all goes well, everyone working on the Echinacea project will be able to contribute to the Echinacea Field Log web log. (Should we call this a flog?) Folks are coming from many places to work on the project this summer. Students are coming from Western Washington University, Carleton College, Dennison University, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the U of MN. Andy is a professor at Dennison U and is driving to Chicago tomorrow to pick me up. I’m at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois. There’ll time for more intros later. I need to pack up equipment & supplies.

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