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Day 2: Tagging and Flagging

Another successful field day in the books! I started out the day by joining a group at KJs to learn some demography techniques on some freshly emerged echinacea sprouts. KJs was one of the remnants that was burned in the spring, so there was plenty of bare ground for us to practice our
“active searching silly walk.” Our first mission upon arriving at KJs was to find as many flowering echinacea heads as we could and mark them with red flags.

Once they were all marked, we were able to go back and gather demography data, like the amount of flowering heads and rosettes a single plant had, and once all our data was recorded we could switch out the red flags for neon ones. Before heading back to Hjelm for lunch we decided to explore Elk Lake Road East and check how many flowering echinaceas we could find. Though this site was significantly larger than KJs, we weren’t able to find nearly as many flowering heads (I unfortunately didn’t find any at all).

After lunch the whole team gathered to listen to presentations from both Ruth, who described the interconnectedness of genetics and environmental factors on an organism’s phenotype, and Jared, who taught us why fires are so important to some prairie plants and introduced a few unanswered questions that the team could attempt to pursue.

For our final activity of the day, the team once again split up to work on different projects. My group headed out to P1 with Mia to do some flag maintenance. After much flag replacement and meter stick wielding, we were able to cover the entirety of the P1 plot with four minutes to spare!

Looking forward to another prairie perusal tomorrow!

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