The seedling search has begun!

Today we started the seedling search at Steven’s Approach (SAP). The wind was strong and air temperature was chilly. We searched 3 circles; in one of the circles we found 6 seedlings! We drew a map and filled in a matrix, as we have done in previous years. We also tried out the new coordinate frame.
I (Amy) have revised the protocol. Please read it and feel free to suggest ways it can be improved.
Seedling Search Protocol 2011.doc

Fall Field Work

Kate and I have had some beautiful weather for field work (except today–it rained most of the day). Here’s a picture of the roadside site we call East Riley. Notice that our ambitious mower has mowed TWO swaths of the roadside. The mowed area includes most of the circles I am searching to re-find and measure plants we had identified in years past.

We do seedling searches every spring at 14 prairie remnants. We search within 41 cm (or 50 cm for smaller populations) of randomly selected Echinacea plants that flowered the previous summer. Since 2006 we have used these spring searches to find new seedlings (identifiable by the presence of cotyledons). When we find seedlings, we draw circle maps showing the seedling locations with respect to the focal plant, and make measurements to other tagged plants. In 2009 and 2010 we mapped ALL Echinacea plants within the 41/50-cm radius circles. Late in the growing season, we return to the 14 sites and re-find the seedlings and other plants. We update the circle maps, and measure the surviving plants.

Why go to all this trouble? I plan to use the data to estimate the growth rate for these small Echinacea populations. Are the Echinacea producing enough offspring to maintain their populations? That’s the question I hope to answer!

The re-finds are complete at eelr, lih, nessman, nwlf, randt, sap, sgc and spp. I am currently working at eri; still remaining are eth, kj’s, lc, lf and ri. Some of the sites are disappointing. There has been a lot of gopher activity at lih, and most of the Echinacea plants, big and small, are gone. I was only able to find 1 of the 12 seedlings we had previously mapped. Other sites (eri, ri, nessman) are disturbed by frequent roadside mowing and scraping. In spite of that, we were able to find 18 of the 23 previously identified seedlings at nessman. In total (so far), we have found 54/85 seedlings. Some of the survivors were first identified in 2007 (I don’t think I’ve found any 2006 seedlings yet–but there weren’t many to begin with).

I’ll post an update when I finish entering all the data…or the next time I get rained out!

Seedling refind protocol 2010

Here’s the protocol for re-finds in the remnants. Please look it over, and critique!
Protocol for seedling refinds 2010.docx

Seedling searches complete!

Today Josh and I searched the last two circles at Staffanson Prairie (SPP). Our last search centered on this focal plant:
We found 23 seedlings in the circles at SPP, bringing our grand total for this year to 74. In comparison, we found 29 seedlings in 2006, 135 in 2007, 239 in 2008, and 93 in 2009. That’s quite a lot of year-to-year variation!

Seedlings found doing Recruitment

Exciting news! Amy and Hillary found some seedlings at a Hegg Lake plot, the one thats on a hill (the hill with all the phlox on the side) near that blind corner. Anyway, there were nearby flowering plants so its great their reproducing! There were also a couple seedlings found outside the frisbee sized circle area.

here are the pics:

staffanson and recruitment (44).JPG

This one is a close up of the shriveled cots (with an achene next to it), can you see it!?!
staffansen and recruitment (45).JPG

The seedling finders, working hard!
staffansen and recruitment (47).JPG

This was in the morning, getting ready for work:
staffansen and recruitment (4).JPG

This is just a prairie lilly (Lilium philadelphicum) that I spotted at Staffenson. First time ever seeing one and I think their beautiful!
staffansen and recruitment (22).JPG

Lastly, this is a reminder for me to show Stuart my preliminary data collection sheet:
data table for project.pdf


Year-old Echinacea youngster

With the early spring we’ve been having in Minnesota, I was curious about whether the Echinacea plants were sprouting. My husband and I made a day-trip out to Douglas County last Saturday (May 1). I did a quick check of my crossing experiment plot at Hegg Lake. I found some of the toothpicks we used to mark seedlings last summer, along with some of the plants–which are now a year old. I plan to do a complete census in another couple of weeks.

We also stopped by the common garden. Here’s one of the plants–already quite a bit of growth on the first of May.

Amy’s poster

Here’s a poster I presented at the Evolution 2009 symposium at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, September 2-4, 2009. The poster describes my local adaptation experiment, and results of the early summer seedling searches at my three experimental sites.

Seedling re-finds

Here is a draft version of a protocol for seedling re-finds in the prairie remnants. Please read and critique. Protocol for seedling refinds 2009.docx

Good news!

Today I found some healthy-looking Echinacea seedlings at my experimental plot in Perch Lake WPA near Leola, SD.
Thumbnail image for P8091480.JPGView image
The DNR sprayed this area (including my plot) last week, in an effort to eradicate yellow toadflax. It seems that my seedlings were shielded by the tall grass. It’s also likely that the seedlings are not in a rapidly growing stage, so they may have been less vulnerable than other broad-leaf plants.

Here’s another picture:

Seedling searches finished!

We finished searching for seedlings at the last site (Staffanson Prairie Preserve) on Monday. All the datasheets & maps (163 pages) are now organized in a 3-ring binder.

Here are a few highlights:

We found total of …
> 22+1+5+1+8+2+24+4+13+0+5+7+1+0
[1] 93
… ninety-three seedlings at fourteen sites!

In August we’ll go back and check the fate of every one of those seedlings. I hope we can find them all!

Mimi, Amanda, Greg, Allegra, Daniel, Caroline, and Gretel
looking for seedlings on the scraped roadside at Riley’s site.
(They didn’t find any here.)

Two possible Echinacea seedlings (not counted above) were noted. We should go back to check their identity within the next week. At site NWLF we left a pin flag at focal plant #13073. At site ERI the possible Echinacea seedling was at R102 (see page 97). Help me remember to check these!

We found about 500 other Echinacea plants within the circles, mostly juvenile plants and some adults (flowering and not).
> 16+16+25+131+63+33+73+24+46+5+16+46+6+11
[1] 511

The roadsides at sites ER and ERI were scraped. In the area that was scraped, all the tags are gone. We did see many little Echinacea leaves peeking through the gravel, but no seedlings. In some areas the scraping was deeper and some roots of old plants were pulled out. I collected one pulled root from the S side of the road on the W half of RI; I couldn’t tell from where it was yanked. IMG_8873.JPG

The root was huge!

With our very precise maps of plants from previous years, we will be able to identify which plants are gone and which persist. It will be a challenge though. In some dense areas we may not be able to figure it out. Stay tuned, we’ll bring the detailed maps and try to figure it all out in August, after peak flowering.


Gretel determining the identity of individual Echinacea plants
at the scraped roadside at Riley’s.

The scraped gravel was piled in the ditches. Some plants in the ditches were buried and I expect that many of them will die. There will probably be a lot of weeds in and around those piles for the next few years (until the perennials take over again). IMG_9216.JPG

Two images (above & below) of the piles of gravel deposited
in the ditch on the S side of the road at Riley’s.


Another highlight (no photos though):

It was a pleasure to visit Staffanson. Gretel and I mapped the focal locations on Sunday and saw a patch of Cypripedium calceolus in flower (past prime). Almost every focal plant in the West unit (unburned) had spittlebug spittle on it. Almost none of the focal plants in the East unit (burned) had spit.

We didn’t use the tripod to take photos. The camera didn’t attach well and the remotetrip feature isn’t ready yet. We’ll need to work on the tripod and practice using it. I think it holds great potential to speed up and improve our protocol.