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2017 update: Dykstra’s local adaptation experiment

This summer, Amy and members of Team Echinacea continued to monitor the progress of Echinacea plants in her local adaptation plots. We found 221 basal plants, but no flowering plants this year. Amy has 3 sites: Western South Dakota, Central South Dakota, and West Central Minnesota. At each site achenes from all sites have been sowed. Team Echinacea is able to help with the assessment of survival and fitness traits of the individuals in the Minnesota plot.

Amy presents her local adaptation research so far at lunch this summer.

Start year: 2008

Location: Grand River National Grassland (Western South Dakota), Samuel H. Ordway Prairie (Central South Dakota), Staffanson Prairie Preserve (West Central Minnesota), and Hegg Lake WMA (West Central Minnesota).

Overlaps with: Dykstra’s interpopulation crosses

Data collected:  Plant fitness measurements (plant status, number of rosettes, number of leaves, and length of longest leaf)

You can find more information about Amy’s local adaptation experiment and links to previous flog posts regarding this experiment at the background page for the experiment.

2016 update: Amy D’s local adaptation experiment

In 2008, Amy Dykstra began an experiment to study how adapted Echinacea populations are to their local environments. She collected achenes from three populations distributed across a wide section of Echinacea angustifolia’s range, from Western South Dakota to our study site in Western Minnesota. She established a plot near each collection site where she sowed achenes from all sites. Since then, Amy has assessed survival and fitness traits of the individuals in her plots annually.

The exciting news about this experiment is that three plants flowered this year: two had one head each, and one had vertical development of its stem, but did not form a flowering head. All three were in the Western South Dakota plot and originated from Western Minnesota seed. This summer was the first time that Amy saw any flowering in this experiment. We hope for more flowering in the future so that Amy can analyze how local adaptation affects adult life stages of Echinacea.

Amy saw the first flowering plants in the local adaptation experiment in 2016

Amy saw the first flowering plants in the local adaptation experiment in 2016

Start year: 2008

Location: Grand River National Grassland (Western South Dakota), Samuel H. Ordway Prairie (Central South Dakota), Staffanson Prairie Preserve (West Central Minnesota), and Hegg Lake WMA (West Central Minnesota).

Overlaps with: Dykstra’s interpopulation crosses

Data collected: Amy collected plant fitness measurements (plant status, number of rosettes, number of leaves, and length of longest leaf) electronically.

You can find more information about Amy’s local adaptation experiment and links to previous flog posts regarding this experiment at the background page for the experiment.

Project status update: Dykstra’s local adaptation

Lots of basal leaves but no flowering in Amy's local adaptation experiment in 2015

Plenty of basal leaves but no flowering in Amy Dykstra’s local adaptation experimental plots in 2015

In 2008, Amy Dykstra began an experiment to study how adapted Echinacea populations are to their local environments. She collected achenes from three populations distributed across a wide section of Echinacea angustifolia’s range, from Western South Dakota to our study site in Western Minnesota. She established a plot near each collection site where she sowed achenes from all sites. Since then, Amy has assessed survival and fitness traits of the individuals in her plots annually.

Amy expected to see increasing proportions of achenes emerging as seedlings with decreasing distance between the seed source and the sowing site. Instead she found that seedling emergence increased by sowing site from western to central South Dakota to Minnesota, and that at each site achenes from Minnesota and western South Dakota had higher seedling emergence than those collected at the central South Dakota site.  This result suggests that there isn’t evidence of local adaptation in Echinacea seedling establishment, but that source population matters, potentially due to maternal effects.

After six years of tracking survival to fitness, however, there is some indication that local adaptation may play a role in later life stages.  No individuals have flowered yet in any of the plots, which is somewhat surprising for Echinacea angustifolia individuals which are typically 5-7 years old before flowering for the first time. Amy will continue this study in 2016, so stay tuned for updates!

Start year: 2008

Location: Grand River National Grassland (Western South Dakota), Samuel H. Ordway Prairie (Central South Dakota), Staffanson Prairie Preserve (West Central Minnesota), and Hegg Lake WMA (West Central Minnesota).

Overlaps with: Dykstra’s interpopulation crosses

Team members who have worked on this project: Amy Dykstra, flog posts written by Amy may provide additional detail about activities associated the the development and continuing progress on this project.

Local adaptation census complete!

GRNG20150708Thanks to some critical help from Team Echinacea, we were able to complete the 2015 census on the local adaptation experiment this week. We found a total of 282 live Echinacea plants this summer (compared to 372 in 2014). 96 of the survivors live in the western South Dakota plot, and 186 in the Hegg Lake plot. None of the plants have yet flowered, though some of the western SoDak plants seem to be large enough (see photo). Maybe next year!

Flowering Phenology in South Dakota and Minnesota

Last week I assessed Echinacea flowering phenology at Grand River National Grassland south of Lemmon, SD, Samuel H. Ordway Prairie west of Leola, SD and Staffanson Prairie near Kensington, MN. Here are a couple of figures I generated to compare phenology at the 3 sites.
First, I made pie charts to show the relative proportions of flowering plants.
PieChartFloweringPhenology.jpeg

Next, to show more quantitative information, I used a stacked bar graph.
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These figures illustrate that the flowering phenology is most advanced at Staffanson and least advanced at S. H. Ordway Prairie. Nevertheless, I am encouraged that there are lots of flowering plants at all 3 sites, suggesting that a long-distance cross involving plants from these 3 locations would be possible. I am considering tackling that project next summer, to assess whether there would be lower seedling recruitment from between-population crosses compared to within-population crosses at these 3 sites.

Here’s a picture of some flowering Echinacea at Perch Lake, which is near the S. H. Ordway prairie.
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Survivors in central South Dakota plot

Here is a picture of 2 of the 3 surviving plants in my experimental plot at Perch Lake Waterfowl Production Area, southwest of Leola, SD.
P7081761forFlog.jpgEach of the 2 Echinacea seedlings is marked with a red party toothpick. We (Shelby, Janelle and I) found them in May when we censused my 2 SoDak plots. We found a total of 10 new seedlings at the Perch Lake site, all of which had 2 cotyledons but no true leaves. I returned to Perch Lake last Thursday, July 8. Sadly, 7 of the seedlings were gone, but I was able to verify that the 3 survivors are, indeed, Echinacea angustifolia.

The Perch Lake site is 1 of 3 experimental plots I (and my assistants) sowed in November 2008, to ask whether Echinacea from western South Dakota, central South Dakota and Minnesota exhibit local adaptation in seedling recruitment. More background and results from the 1st 2009 census are displayed in a poster that you can find in the September 2009 archives of the FLOG.

Unfortunately, the Perch Lake site was sprayed with a combination of herbicides (Tordon and Telar) in August 2009. The treatment was lethal to ALL the Echinacea seedlings that emerged in 2009. Thus, the 3 surviving seedlings from this year are the only living Echinacea in this plot! Fortunately, I was able to census the plot shortly after it was sprayed, and I am confident that I found the survivors up to that point.

I plan to present a talk about my local adaptation experiment at the North American Prairie conference in August.

Early 2010 census on Local Adaptation experiment

Yesterday, Janelle G. and Shelby F. helped me do the May census on the Hegg Lake plot of my local adaptation experiment. There were some surprises, including 3 or 4 NEW seedlings!
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Another surprise was a visit from this fawn.
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Another interesting discovery was a cluster of egg sacs. Anybody know what critter would leave these?
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Today and tomorrow we plan to census the two South Dakota plots that are part of this experiment.

Seedling searches at Hegg Lake

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The classic seedling search position.

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Young Echinacea seedling–cotyledons only.

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Larger seedling with a true leaf.

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We marked seedlings with colored toothpicks, so we can re-find them in August, and again next summer. I hope to be able to learn about initial seedling establishment as well as seedling survival through the first two seasons.

Seedling search at Hegg Lake

Amy and I have been out at Hegg Lake since Tuesday afternoon, searching low and lower for Echinacea seedlings in my small “next generation genetic rescue” experiment and Amy’s crossing and local adaptation experiments. We’re finding quite a few seedlings- they’re mostly just cotyledons (some amazingly with their little seed coats still attached) and about a quarter have put out their first true, very fuzzy leaf. Without the true leaves, the seedlings can be tricky to tell apart from the seedlings of one or two other species, but we’ve developed a fairly good search image and are making notes of questionable identifications.
Mode number of seedlings for each “position,” that is a batch of 5-40 achenes sown: 0
Maximum seedlings found in a position in my experiment: 12
Maximum seedlings found in a position in Amy’s experiment: 10
I’ll also brag and mention that today I found the seedling with the longest true leaf so far at 42 mm. Looked to me like the plucky guy was flipping the bird. Ah, Amy and I certainly do succeed at keeping ourselves and each other entertained.
We completed searches for my experiment on Tuesday, made it through the crossing experiment Wednesday and today and plan to finish up with the local adaptation experiment tomorrow. Photos are forthcoming.