Seedling microhabitat project findings

Hi again, it’s Emma––it’s been three weeks already and I’ve finished the majority of data analysis for my independent project! I presented about it at our lab meeting this morning and it was good to show what I’ve learned to the team and to get some helpful feedback.

To summarize my experiment’s goal, I was investigating whether there are differences in microhabitat between areas with surviving Echinacea seedlings and areas where Echinacea seedlings established but have died. This involved collecting data on site characteristics like litter depth, vegetation cover, slope, aspect, distance to roads and fields, plant community composition, and floral neighborhood at circles where seedlings monitored in the Sling project sprouted between 2007-2013. After analyzing my data, I can report that I found no differences in microhabitat between living and dead seedlings, and that I did not find differences in survival by prairie remnant, either. This suggests that the microhabitat variables I collected data on are likely not the most important factors driving seedling survival and mortality in this long-lived prairie perennial plant. Instead I propose that other factors, like climate, soil moisture & nutrients, pesticide drift, light limitation, herbivory, and genetics, may have greater impact on whether seedlings establish or die. Luckily the Sling project is ongoing and members of Team Echinacea are working to find out what drives seedling fitness in fragmented Echinacea populations!

I learned a LOT about doing data analysis in R during this project. I’m super grateful to Mia and Stuart for all the help they gave me when I had questions about R during the internship! The highlights probably are learning about, and doing, some multivariate analysis and using the R package vegan. It was so cool getting to create my own NMDS and species accumulation graphs after seeing them in many ecology papers I’ve read. From here I plan to do a few final analyses and edits with the intention of presenting my project findings at an ecology conference next summer.

That’s all from me for now! Stay tuned for a groovy poster…


Winter break data analysis

Hi Flog,

It’s Emma Greenlee back for part 2 of my independent project, data analysis! My project draws from the Sling project, in which Team Echinacea annually tracks the survival of Echinacea seedlings that originated between 2006-2013 for an extensive record of survival and mortality in these seedlings. During my internship with the Echinacea Project this past summer I collected data in the hopes of finding out whether Sling seedling survival varies with microhabitat characteristics. Now that Carleton is on our 6-week-long winter break, I’m analyzing that microhabitat data with the goal of putting together a poster to present at an ecology conference next summer.

After a week of working on this, starting from a fairly low level of R knowledge, I have learned a lot and feel like I’m still very early in the process. I started the week doing some R tutorials and lessons and checked in with Mia daily on Zoom to talk about any questions I had. She set up a nice outline to help me get started and has been really helpful, so shout out to Mia! I have spent most of my time cleaning my data, which is separated into two data sets, one containing microhabitat data on litter depth, vegetation cover, slope, aspect, distance to roads and fields, and plant community composition in each sling circle, and the other containing records of all flowering species and number of inflorescences at each sling circle. Once it’s formatted how I want I will start some exploratory data analysis, hopefully at the start of next week.

I also got to go to the Echinacea Project’s zoom lab meeting this morning, where the group discussed an outline for the introduction to the sling paper Lea is working on. It was nice to see everyone, and to hear about how the sling research will translate to papers and the kinds of decisions that are involved in thinking about how to set up a research paper. This morning there was also a seminar put on by the CBG where speakers representing Plants of Concern, restoration research at the garden, the Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie seedbank, and Budburst presented a little about their projects and how other collaborators can get involved. A common theme among the presenters was an emphasis on citizen science and even “community science,” a term I hadn’t heard before but thought was awesome.

Just looking at the vegan package for R made me feel like a real ecologist this week, looking forward to continuing to build on what I know next week.

Emma 🙂

A lab frozen in time

Hi flog!

Yesterday Stuart and I took a trip into the Garden! This was the first trip into the Garden for me which I was very excited about. Stuart showed me around the lab and I have a much better sense of the ACE process now.

As we walked around the lab there was this almost eerie feeling. Almost like someone had stepped out mid-day for lunch, and Stuart and I being there is disrupting their work.

Char’s cleaning was interrupted, this didn’t stop the spiders from building a web…
This patch was half way through being randomized, and just stopped
Time has actually frozen in March… but no more

Hopefully I can start the inventory process on all of heads collected in 2020 soon! It’s all just so exciting!

Until next time


Bye bye Minnesota

Hi Flog!

I’ve relocated! Stuart and I finished up the last of field work on Friday and have moved back to Chicago. I moved into my new apartment on Saturday!

Rain passing by p1

Last week we finished up many tasks including, p1 harvest, demo, remeasuring any problem records in p1, pulled all flags in p2, p7 and p9. Overall it was a great week we got a lot done!

P2 before it was de-flagged
P2 after it was de-flagged

I celebrated my birthday last Monday by making myself some apple crisp. It was very yummy!

The birthday crisps!

I am definitely going to miss Minnesota but am very excited about my new adventure in Evanston!

Solidago speciosa ripe for the picking!

Until next time

Bur bye,


Recheck update

Hi flog!

As we have mentioned previously on the flog in all of the experimental plots we measure every plant every year. We mainly need to know if the plants are alive each year. We also measure various other traits, for example leaf length and number.

As you might suspect we don’t find every plant every year we call these plants “can’t finds.” To ensure that these plants really not there and we didn’t just miss them we search these positions again.

I have been working on going through the recheck data, cleaning things up a bit and fixing any problems. I have also calculated the re-find rate for three of the plots that we have measured. For p8 the re-find rate was 2.0%, in p679 which has hybrids of E. angustifolia and E. pallida planted in it, the re-find rate was a whopping 14.0%. Lastly in p1 which is our largest experimental plot had a re-find rate of 10.1%.

 I find the range in re-find rates among the plots interesting, the low re-find rate in p8 would correspond with the higher mortality rate in this plot. P679 had the highest re-find rate at 14.0%, this plot was the first plot that we measured. I would suspect that over time we have gotten better at measuring and finding plants. If we measured these plots later in the season some of the positions that we recorded as can’t finds we would have found with more experience. This would lower the re-find rate.

Overall, I think that the team did a really great job at measuring and rechecking, it was a lot of work, but I think we worked hard and got things done very efficiently. I know the re-find rates aren’t actually that high, but I was somewhat shocked how high the rates were.

In other news I finished harvesting all of the heads from the remnants, and finished Demo at all of the sites other than near town hall.

I am heading down to Illinois at the end of the week, Stuart and I will be wrapping up field work this week. I am excited about the move and to start work at the Garden, but I am also sad to leave Minnesota. I have enjoyed being in the wide opened skies and the fresh air.

The sunrise at Andes this morning!

Until next time

Burr bye!


Sumacs and pie!

Hi flog!

It’s been busy out here over the last week!

Stuart and I took a wander out though the corn to do demo at Krusmarks. It was a very erry walk through the corn.

Later in the week Amy came up from the cities to work on her addition to p1. Amy is planning on planting the seeds created during her inter-remnant crosses this year. She is adding to p1 in the south east corner, now this portion of the plot is being encroached by sumac. Now little baby Echinacea and sumac do not mix therefore, we are trying to decrease the amount of sumac in the area. In order to do this first we cut all of the tall grass to expose the sumac. Then we applied herbicide to the sumac in order to apply the herbicide in a systematic way we set up “swimming lanes.” We will see how effective our efforts are in the spring, but I sure think that it worked well.

Amy and Stuart cutting the grass of the tallgrass prairie
Anyone feel like going for a dip?

This week Stuart is back in IL, I have been continuing to work on harvest and wrapping up demo and p1 rechecks.

Last night I made apple pie from apples at the farm! I had never done a basket weave crust before, but it was fun to figure out as I go!

Not so bad considering the Andes oven runs high…

Until next time,


Falling into fall

Hi flog!

As you know the majority of the team has now gone back to school, so now it is just me and Drake. The last week has taken a turn towards fall, the average temperature has been around 55F. There has also been an ever so slight change in coloration vegetation, the soybean and corn plants have turned more yellow than green, the sumacs have gone from green to a nice dark red. The Indian grass in p1 has been turning yellow and has been falling over. Even some of the Echinacea are getting ready for Halloween!

Some colorful sumacs
Silly Echinacea Halloween is next month!

This week I have been working on p1 harvest, harvest from the remnants, and some maintenance in p8. Part of the p8 maintenance is trimming out all of the big blue stem and Indian grass. As I worked on that task I couldn’t help thinking of the line from Alice in Wonderland, “painting the roses red”. I couldn’t help but see the irony in trimming grasses out of the prairie, however we do have a rational in trimming the grasses other than just to avoid trouble with the Red Queen. By removing the flowering stems of big blue stem and Indian grass before they set seed, we can decrease their spread through the plot.

This week I also spent some quality time with Darwin shooting all of the flowering E. pallida.

Darwin enjoying the view of the fall prairie clouds

In the upcoming week I will continue to work on the various harvests, and p1 rechecks.

Until next week!


Goodbye Flog

Hey Flog, just one more person saying bye! What an awesome experience I had on Team Echinacea this summer. I appreciated the community and learned a lot from the age and experience range of the team. I learned a lot of new skills, from assessing flowering phenology to using a survey-grade GPS to conducting an independent project to becoming familiar with new plant species! The age stratification of the team also got me thinking about both learning from people and being someone others could learn from. With such a variety of work this summer I was never bored, often felt challenged by the responsibilities I was trusted with, and got to enjoy the company of an awesome group of people.

I enjoyed one last day of demo with Mia and Anna 🙂
Living at Andes was great, especially because Lea and Mia were two awesome housemates. Hoping the ATH team compensates me for use of this publicity photo.
I got shocked by electric fences twice this summer. Glad this goat (or a similar-looking friend) got to share one of those moments with me
Not grass corner this week but the last species I made a visor record for on my project (Symphyotrichum laeve), plus a flying Bombus
Aww! Sharing a special moment with my sister when she visited. It’s fun when you have people to share it with!

The next few weeks I’ll be thinking of Mia and Drake as they wrap up harvest and the field season! See you next time!


Farewell, Flog!

Goood afternoon!

Yesterday was my last day with Team Echinacea. I’m sad to say goodbye so soon, but my Junior year of high school is calling me. I had an amazing summer with the team, and I learned so much about plants and the prairie in a unique experience I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.

It wasn’t just my last day yesterday, but also Lea, John, and Emma’s. We wrapped up our time together with one last goat-herding excursion, some packing, and a little bit of demo before our early lunch.

At lunch, we had some delicious vegan chocolate cake (Thank you Jean for all the cakes you’ve made us this summer!) and sat in our 2020 grass-circle for the last time. John and Lea’s puppy pals came to visit too! I’m going to miss our little spot under the oak trees, but I won’t miss the constant fear of acorn-pelting…

Who’s a good boy? Clyde’s a good boy!
Huxley and Velmie came to visit too!

In the afternoon, Emma, Mia and I went out to Hegg Lake/P2 to shoot demo on some recruitment sites. I got some quality time with Darwin in the car while we drove, and Emma was able to shoot one final site with him. I think it was a pretty sentimental experience for the both of us.

MYSTERY DOGS!! These guys were hanging out on the side of the road as we drove by… we thought they were coyotes, but we were pleasantly surprised!
“don’t speak to me or my son ever again”
Just kidding! Darwin and I are very social

At the end of the day, we cleaned up Hjelm as much as we could, returned our equipment, and said the final good-byes for the summer. I’m going to miss Team Echinacea as Fall and Winter come, but I’m hoping to visit again next summer. Thank you to all the people who helped me grow as a scientist and student. I wouldn’t exchange this summer for anything, and I’m grateful we were given the chance to come together in 2020.

Signing off for now,

Alpha Mike / Anna Meehan

Diary of a seedling

Dear diary,

            Today the loud lumbering noises came back, it has been a while since they last visited but the day lengths seem similar to last time. The noises got louder when they found me, I guess that means that they were excited to see me again. I wonder if they know that I look forward to their visit every year.

            This has been a big year for me I worked really hard and I grew two whole leaves! The longest one is all of seven whole centimeters! My parent plant would be so proud of me! Speaking of the good old ‘rent, I haven’t heard from them in a while. I miss them but I am excited to strike out on my own, I hope that I can flower some day and make them proud.

Anyway, today was a good day since the loud lumbering noises came for their visit and I look forward for when they come and visit again. But for now, I have to go back to getting ready for the cold. I am keeping busy making sure all of my sugars are packed away and ready for midnight snacking.



The Tart Plum Plum Tart is ready for Mary Berry’s approval

Today Emma and I did some sling in the morning when we visited this seeding M. Lea did her last field work of the year this morning! During lunch Drake brought his Tart Plum Plum Tart, to share! It was very good, and we all appreciated the time that picking all of the plums took. In the afternoon Emma and I set off to do some of the little demo left. I got some practice at operating Darwin. Operating Darwin is a bit trickery than I was expecting but with a good teacher like Emma I picked it up fairly quickly.

Me attempting to get the GPS in the exact right spot….

Until next time!

Bur bye,