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Dividing remnants, conquering the county

Having mutually pledged to the Echinacea Project our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor, we set out this fine Saturday morning to survey the flowering phenology of Echinacea in the prairie remnants. We are interested in phenology (the study of recurring phenomena) because just as distance can genetically isolate fragmented populations, so can time. Since Echinacea cannot reproduce with itself, it needs to be flowering at the same time as a compatible mate if it wants a chance to reproduce.

To quantify flowering phenology, we have to check on the flowers every few days. Echinacea is just beginning to flower now, and we don’t want to miss anything. Today we split up into two-person teams, went to different remnants, and recorded the progress of every flowering Echinacea. All our work locating and flagging plants earlier this week allowed us to move efficiently through the sites, finishing our survey by mid-day. Here we are converging at the final site:

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A formidable crew undertaking a daunting task in pursuit of a noble goal: what a glorious Saturday!

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