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Monday June 25

Last week was a busy and fun one for Team Echinacea 2012; no two days were the same. We wrapped up some of the first summer projects and started to transition into the second phase of the summer. We completed evaluating the recruitment plots, began to record their GPS locations, conducted demography and phenology observations in the common garden, and perhaps most notably, completed round one of seeding searches with the west (and recently burned) section of Staffanson prairie with help from Amy Dykstra, who came to visit on Friday. In addition to all the progress made on the long-term projects, we also spent multiple rainy mornings working on our individual research projects, the proposals for which have been recently, or will soon be posted here on the flog. IMG_1746.jpg Stuart Instructs us on the proper field techniques for cross-pollination, pollinator exclusion, and painting flowers so we can keep track of what we’ve just done.

After a short weekend, we started up working again this Monday with a morning dedicated to our independent projects, time which we all used to get out in the field and get our hands dirty. Ruth stopped by today and lent a hand and some very welcome advise, and joined the crew in the afternoon to do some weeding in the common garden. We clipped, pulled, and trimmed Buckthorn, Ash saplings, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Sweet Clover, and Sumac.

Oh the things you will find … doing rechecks

I found a few things besides Echinacea plants, while searching for plants that may have died in the common garden. I found a fossil shell. I gave it to Per and he held on to it for a while but dropped it. Someone else will find it! I found a stylus (for a handspring visor). It’s probably Gretel’s; she lost hers earlier this year. I found a snake skin with an intact top of head–the eyes were transparent-cool! Per gave to Hattie, I think. I found a mouse in a mouse nest (right on top of dead Echinacea leaves from last year). The mouse bounded away. Also, Ruth called while I was searching to say that she had just found the serial cord for the survey station data collector that we couldn’t find–we had been looking for that for a few days. Wahoo! Finally, I emptied my pockets of litter that I had picked up: three pieces of flagging, one melted plastic plug label, and 2 blue plastic cocktail stirrers.

IMG_5633.JPG

Stuff from Stuart’s pocket: stylus (1), flagging bits (3),
melted plastic plug label (1), blue plastic cocktail stirrers (2)

We are making great progress on annual measurements of plant in the common garden. On Monday we finished measuring all plants (~10000). On Tuesday we finished placing staples at all locations where plants died overwinter in 2007-2008 (>700). Today we made a huge dent in “rechecks.”

Rechecking is when we revisit all the locations where we recorded a “can’t find” and left a flag while measuring. We placed about 1500 flags. About 700 of those “can’t finds” were stapled this year. So, we just verified that staples were in the correct locations and pulled flags. Some locations had staples from previous years that a measurer didn’t find. We pulled flags there too. Then there were the plants that were alive last year. We rechecked those and found quite a few plants. Each time someone found one, they yelled “wahoo” and the rest of us responded with a whoop and a holler.

Shucks, it was fun!! Actually I was burned out by the end. Next year we should plan two 2h sessions instead of one 4h session.

Staples 2009

Staples mark positions in the Common Garden where plants have died. Our policy has been to add a staple to a position where a plant has not been found for 3 years. This year, we’ve followed that protocol for the Inbreeding and INB2 gardens. However, we have added staples in Big Batch, 2001, SPP, Monica’s, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 1999s where plants have only been “Can’t Find” for TWO years. This should minimize the time it takes to search positions. We hope that plants and staples won’t both be found at the same position in the future.

mowing the CG

We mowed most of the CG this morning. Putting flags in went smoothly. It helped that we left many flags overwinter. We mowed according to the plan established two years ago. We started removing clippings & pulling flags that marked fl pla from 2008.

I noticed a plant I do not recognize at R46 P~903. Also, in R14 near P870 there is a patch of somethings that is starting to spread. We should determine if it’s a weed we should eliminate.

Field work, May 2008

Here’s an update on the main research activities this spring. The cool spring with a late snow (~15 inches -38 cm- at the end of April) delayed burning weather somewhat and we think seedling recruitment may be later than in the past few years.

Recruitment/Establishment Experiment

On May 9 I mowed burn breaks so the DNR burn crew could burn the plots. They burned the middle unit at Hegg Lake WMA on May 28. Two plots were in this unit. Here’s a photo of one plot just after the burn. Nice work! There are 3 plots to be burned at Hegg Lake WMA, two at Kensington Duck Refuge, and one a Eng Lake WMA. At the duck refuge I saw 2 Sandhill cranes and a Red-necked grebe (among the regular, awesome array of water birds).

Common Garden

Dwight, Jean, and I burned the common garden on May 22, starting just after noon. The weather was within prescription, but the wind was a bit strong and the fire jumped the gravel road and started some corn stubble. The fire worked its way to some reed canary grass and we managed to put it out there. If it had gone a little longer it would have torched the cattails and burned the whole slough west of the common garden. Whew!

The running fire was great in the 99S garden, but there were quite a few unburned spots in the main garden. We burn the CG every other year and we mow paths annually, so we don’t have quite enough fuel for really complete burns. Maybe in 2010 we should augment the fuel load with some prairie hay.

A big tree just east of the CG caught on fire. It was hollow, but quite strong. It finally broke and fell over around 7 pm. To put it out we scraped all the embers and coal from the trunk with an axe and shovel. We couldn’t reach a spot of punky wood 8 – 9 feet (2.5 m) off the ground. So I climbed up the trunk and used a 5 lb. pick mattock to scrape out the embers and punky wood. Then Dwight lifted the smith Indian backpack sprayer over his head and I sprayed and sprayed and sprayed. We put it out by around 10 pm. Exciting! We need to cut up the part of the tree that fell on the CG.

An adult bald eagle flew over the CG just as we started to burn and then again around 8 pm — great!

On 24 May, Gretel and I broadcast seed over the CG. We seeded Galium boreale, Bouteloua curtipendula, and Schizacharium scoparium. Gretel, Per, and I seeded the ditch with many species of seed, including Stipa spartea and Spartina pectinata. We forgot to seed the 99S garden.

Seedling Search

On 27 & 28 May Ruth, Amy, Julie, and I searched for Echinacea seedlings in five remnant prairies. We searched about 75 circles with 41 or 50 cm radius and found 17 seedlings. Several had only cotyledons and the tallest first leaf was 24 mm. We got rained out yesterday (29 May). It was also cold and windy.

Hjelm house

Last weekend Pete, Dwight, Gretel, and Stuart cleaned out all the sheetrock and insulation (yuck) in the house. That was a job. We got the house all ready to have the floors sanded. We have a lot left to do to get the house ready for the main field season. The highest priorities are bathroom and computer network.

Common Garden Management Notes

Here are some notes including completed management and what’s left to do…

7/12/07 2:10 pm
The crew did a great job weeding Melilotus & Carduus yesterday and the day before. Very thorough job! They started cutting woody veg. Ash and Sumac are prevalent. Some others woody species include Salix, Rubus, Vitis, Ulmus. I looked where the single Toxicodendron plant used to be. No sign of it. I haven’t seen it for several years.

I systematically walked the garden looking at these groups of rows: 56-51, 50-47, 46-43, 42-39, 38-35, 34-31, 30-27, 26-23, 22-19, 18-15, 14-11, <11, >56. I was searching for Lotus and gopher mounds.

7/12/07 3:13 pm
I removed Lotus corniculatus from these locations…
row pos
52-53 905-906 veg removed
54.5 973 veg removed
48 908.5 pla removed
29.5-30 872.5-873 plas & veg rem
17 954.5 pla rem
18 955 veg rem

I noted gopher mounds at these locations. Not all of these are active. I think there are many more ground squirrels than pocket gophers.
row pos
55.5 981.5
45.5 924
43.5 925
43.5 926.5
43.5 930
43 930
44.5 931
46 983
42.5 930
42.5 928
42 948
40.5 923
39.5 921
39.5 916
36.5 921
36 927
37 928
36.5 929
34.5 932
36.5 985
37.5 985
36 983.5
33.5 983
33 932
26.5 912
16.5 885
56.5 915

Note: a huge Thamnophis radix emerged from a hole at 28 940.

In the future–make a plant species list for the common garden. Here are some notes:
Helianthus sp & Galium boreale at 12 889
Stachys palustris in r16 p885
Lathyrus venosus & Galium boreale at r55-56 p970-973
Oenothera biennis at r9 p880
Spirea alba r 57 p973

What is that cf. caprifoliaceae on e side?

TO DO LIST ————
Continue cutting woody veg.
Staple 98 garden.
Remove thistles on W edge.
Remove Phalaris patch r38-39 p~875.
Cut trees in ditch.
Girdle trees E of CG.
Make ladder stairs for S entrance.
Remove Cottonwoods from ditch.
Remove fenceposts.
Remove rebar posts & put in posts along edge.
Put signs along road (& E side?).
Intall webcam.
——————————

On 5 July 2007 Amy & Gretel found a harvested head in a bag from last year. They brought in the bag. Here’s their note:
Mp0418
hdandbag
many achenes loose
many seedlings
25-972 flagged
16 seedlings at least

I noted the coordinates for seedling cluster:
r25.29 p971.63
and there’s 1 seedling 13 cm NE’N of main cluster.