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Re-introduction!

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I’m back! You may have noticed all my photo links are broken… well, that website is dead and I can’t edit my old posts. I’ll go back through and comment on my posts with pictures with updated links so you can have a clue as to what’s going on.

I now keep a (nearly) daily photo blog on Blipfoto and will do weekly posts linking all of the photos from that week, along with other photos and posts as necessary.

As for my project this season, I’m interested in looking at the effects of humidity on the awns of Hesperostipa spartea (aka Stipa spartea. thanks, plant geneticists). The current idea is to construct some sort of variable-humidity chamber with a humidity guage readable by time-lapse photography. I expect this will involve a sealed chamber and a humidifier, dehumidifier, and some way to control them powering on and off. The seeds will be in the chamber, digging through artificial duff or maybe just looking at how the awns curl.

Stipa planting photos

And while I’m back visiting the field blog, here are a handful of photos from the Stipa planting at the end of the summer.

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Stipa is done (and so am I!)

Just a quick note to say that Stipa planting was completed by lunch on Wednesday. We were able to plant the vast majority of seeds where they were randomly assigned in the CG, 10 cm north of existing Echinacea positions on the whole meter throughout the garden. I think only two seeds were not planted at all; one was lost off the board and one was missing its awn and ID sticker. About a dozen seeds had to be assigned new locations, either because there was a hole or a rock in the way or because the plant/staple/can’t find flag that we were measuring from could not be located. Not bad! To assign new random positions, I simply grabbed an ID sticker from the sheet of leftover, unused positions, removed the old sticker, stuck the new and marched around the garden planting the last of my legacy to the Echinacea project. The final task will be to replace the can’t find flags that are associated with a Stipa seed with short pins. Hopefully, this will up the chances of finding seedlings next summer. To this end, we also put a toothpick 1 cm north of every seed. Best of luck to the crew put to this test!
Also, sadly, my time with Team Echinacea is coming to a close. I have accepted an offer for an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship to work at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC starting September 1st (gasp, so soon!). I will be working in their environmental risk assessment group, spending MUCH more time at a desk and much less time running around in the field. I hope that my knowledge and skills as a scientist can do some good in the policy world. Thanks for a wonderful year, and a particularly wonderful summer. Stay in touch.

Files for Gretel to make visor forms AND a reminder for Stuart

Here are two spreadsheets with information to be made into visor forms.
The first is a list of Echinacea positions we will measure from, in order to plant Stipa seeds. The relevant worksheet is the first one. In the visor form, I would like to be able to see row, position, Echinacea plant status and a column for notes. Breaking this list into multiple forms would be fine.

Complete list of Stipa positions81409.xls

The second is information for the “Next generation rescue” August seedling refind. I would like block, row, position and number of seedlings in May visible and would like number toothpicks, number toothpicks with no seedling, number new seedlings, longest leaf lengths and notes as editable fields.

Nextgenresc-For Aug 09 visor form.xlsx

And finally, Stuart, could you check out some Stipa bunches in Staffenson and decide how close we could comfortably plant seeds next to the Echinacea in the garden?

where to plant Stipa

In response to Caroline’s request for more locations to plant Stipa in the common garden, I have selected 208 new locations at random. This map shows the new locations in green. (Blue dots are the previously selected locations.) mapOfStipaInCG2newsHighlighted.pngClick this thumbnail to see a full-sized image.

Here’s a file listing all 208 location. It’s suitable for making 208 labels for 208 seeds! stipaSeedLabels2.csv

More Stipa

I’m about half-way through scanning Stipa seeds and organizing them for planting, and may have underestimated how many we have! I thought we’d have approximately 6 seeds per maternal plant and, if we collected from 400 maternal plants in the field, that’s 2400 seeds. Stuart picked ~2600 positions to plant in. Plenty, right? Well, after assigning positions to seeds from 208 plants, I have 214 to go. That means I underestimated the number of plants we collected from. Also, we’re averaging more like 6.4 seeds per maternal plant. Another underestimation. I think we need another 200 positions to comfortably assign all seeds to their new homes the garden. What do you think?

Giant Cribbage Board?

I am slowly moving up from the basement to rejoin the world at ground level. Thanks to Caroline for the labels – three sets of slides of co-flowering plants of E. ang. are complete. The pictures are waiting to appear online. Meanwhile, succession of the Hjelm house basement table (door) occurs. As a flowering plant replaces another on the prairie, Stipa spartea seeds have replaced the slides.
Can you see a difference between the pictures?
Wouldn’t you like to peg some Stipa and populate the board?
I think Someone (codename: drone or riddler) may offer a 6-pack to the person who fills the last seed in each hole of each styrofoam “board”. It would be more fun than chasing a chipmunk out of the Hjelm house.
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locations for Stipa

I attached a map of locations in the CG where we will plant Stipa seeds. Black dots are Echinacea locations, red circles are potential Stipa locations, and blue dots are locations we will plant this year. We will plant each Stipa seed relative to an Echinacea location, maybe 10 cm South or 20 cm North. Any thoughts?

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Stipa spartea seed picture

Below is one of the scans of Stipa seeds collected from Douglas County. This particular set of seeds was collected from a plant at Staffenson Prairie Preserve. The seeds themselves are pointed towards the left side of the image, and extending from them are the long awns that give Stipa it’s common name (porcupine grass). At this stage, they look less like quills, though, because they have dried and started to coil (click on the picture to see it full resolution and you can actually observe the coils and lots of other neat features of the seed, like hair and a dagger tip!). Out in nature, the coiling action would allow the seeds to attach to a disperser or to drill themselves into the ground in preparation for overwintering and germinating the next spring. We’ll be scanning all of the seeds we collected (an estimated 3,000+ seeds from 431 plants), making digital measurements of seed length and width, and planting around 2,500 of them interspersed with Echinacea in the common garden.

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Planting Stipa in CG

We are going to plant Stipa spartea seeds into the common garden. Here is a
file with target locations for ~2600 seeds. The seeds will be planting in ~269 batches. Here’s a list of the batches: allStipaStarts.csv Sometime before we plant, Caroline will share a photo of one of those Stipa seeds.