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2021 Update: Andropogon fire and flowering in remnants

During late summer 2021, we began collecting data in remnant patches of prairie to quantify fire effects on the reproduction of Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii). We visited 276 random points established during the summer across 27 remnant patches and counted the number of flowering Andropogon culms rooted within 1 m of the random point. Across the 376 plots, we counted 1450 culms. The highest density we observed was 163 culms in one plot at KJs. We also collected seed heads from all culms within 1 m of the random points to x-ray and quantify seed set.

  • Start year: 2021
  • Location: Patches of remnant prairie in and around Solem Township, MN
  • Overlaps with: Random points in remnants
  • Data collected: ~Dropbox/burnRems/remAndro/fieldData2021/remAndro2021DataVerified.csv
  • Samples or specimens collected: Seed heads collected during summer 2021 have been dried and currently reside in Jared’s office. These samples will be cleaned, processes, and x-rayed to quantify seed set.
  • Products: Stay tuned!

You can read more about the Andropogon fire and flowering in remnants experiment, as well as links to prior flog entries about this experiment, on the background page for this experiment.

The end of summer

As summer’s vibrant greens give way to fall’s golden glow, Team Echinacea remains hard at work in western MN. A skeleton crew is diligently wrapping up the field season. Our most important task is harvesting seed from study species so that we can quantify fire effects on plant reproduction in remnant prairies. Here is a brief update on progress for our focal species:

Echinacea angustifolia harvest: 383/383 plants harvested

Andropogon gerardii harvest: 370/370 plots measured and harvested

Liatris aspera harvest: 202/231 plants harvested

Lilium philadelphicum harvest: 79/80 plants harvested

Asclepias viridiflora: all plants harvested (~30, Jared forgot to check harvest data sheet…)

In addition to wrapping up the harvest, we are beginning to make preparations for fall burns and getting materials organized to implement a seed addition experiment designed to assess fire effects on seedling emergence and survival.

Checking off the checklist

This morning (Wednesday), I got a bit of a late start because I made a double-batch apple crisp this morning, and the apples weren’t quite cooked yet. For the crisp, I used combination of northwest greening and haralred apples from the trees around Hjelm, and Mia and Wyatt kindly helped me slice up the mountainous 8 cups of apples. When the crisp had finally cooked, I met up with Mia and Wyatt, who had just finished adding stapes in p1. (check!)

Next, Wyatt and I headed out with Collins to finish up total demo at tplot and shoot a few more flowering plants at hegg in an area which is being renamed nrpal, or near pallida. Total demo is now done! (check!)

After lunch, Wyatt and I tackled the remainder of the Andropogon harvest sites. Our record was a plot at kjs with 163 Andropogon culms! Andropogon harvests are now complete. (check!)

In the evening, we had another bonfire, and we were joined by Stuart’s parents. The rest of the crew cooked up some fabulous breakfast burritos for dinner, crowned with Mia’s famous pickled red onions. The wind had been gusting all afternoon, and now it pitched in to help fan the flames of the bonfire, which caught rapidly. We ended the day with some delicious home-grown apple crisp!

Andropogon adventures

We’ve been missing Laura, John, and Kennedy this week, but we’ve had to forge ahead without them. Today, Mia and Wyatt finished rechecks while I staked random points at nice, eth, and koons for our Andropogon expedition later in the day. After staking, I met with Stuart to learn some R-Studio data wrangling skills. At lunch, Wyatt reported on the Liatris pollinator observations – the team conducted 95 total observations this summer and mapped over 2,500 plants!

After lunch, we learned a new protocol for harvesting Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem). We visited a third of the random points at each site and counted and harvested all the Andropogon culms within one meter of the point. Jared and I collected three full bags of Andropogon at East Riley, a site which had been burned, but we didn’t find a single culm at the other sites (spp and on27).

After work, the Elk Lake house spent all evening cooking up a giant batch of Wyatt’s peanut noodles in preparation for the bonfire tomorrow night. Mia wisely used the food processor to grate the carrots, so no fingers were lost. We doubled the recipe, so there were an awful lot of carrots!