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2017 update: Heritability of fitness–qGen2 & qGen3

Alex and Tracie search for juvenile Echinacea plants in experiments qGen2 & qGen3.

In 2017, we found 1006 three-year-old plants out of the 2526 original seedlings found in 2014 (we found 1724 plants in 2016) in the qGen2 cohort. In the qGen3 cohort we found 248 of the 644 seedlings.

The main goal of the qGen2 and qGen3 experiments is to quantify the evolutionary potential of two remnant prairie populations of Echinacea angustifolia by estimating the additive genetic variance of fitness. We make estimates for two mating scenarios. The first scenario is an experimental crossing design with all matings among plants from two “core” sites: SPP and LF (core x core). The second design uses sires (pollen donors) from the core and dams from sites peripheral to the core. The crosses performed (core x core, core x periphery) in this experiment will quantify additive genetic variance for fitness in each site and each experimental group. Additionally, we will test for differentiation among families; do progeny from sires differ after accounting for maternal (dam) effects?

Comparing germination and first year survival between the qGen2 & qGen3 cohorts:

exp approxFullAcheneCt totalAcheneCt seedlingCt germination firstYrSurvival
qGen2 6300 26144 2581 41% 84%
qGen3 6200 19777 644 10% 38%


Start year qGen3:
 2015

Start year qGen2: 2013

Location: The sires (pollen donors) are in the remnants Landfill and Staffanson. The dams (seed plants) are in exPt 1 and they originate from remnants. Specifically, the grand-dams (seed plants of dams) are from remnants Landfill (core) & around Landfill (peripheral) and remnants Staffanson (core) & railroad crossing sites (peripheral). All progeny are in exPt 8.

Overlaps with: Heritability of fitness–qGen1

Data collected: We used handheld computers to collect data on juvenile plants.

You can find more information about Heritability of fitness–qGen2 & qGen3 and links to previous flog posts regarding this experiment at the background page for the experiment.

2016 update: Heritability of fitness–qGen2 & qGen3

Alex and Lea measure qGen2 seedlings with much enthusiasm.

Alex and Lea measure qGen3 seedlings with much enthusiasm.

The main goal of the qGen2 and qGen3 experiments is to quantify the evolutionary potential of two remnant prairie populations of Echinacea angustifolia by estimating the additive genetic variance of fitness. We make estimates for two mating scenarios. The first scenario is an experimental crossing design with all matings among plants from two “core” sites: SPP and LF (core x core). The second design uses sires (pollen donors) from the core and dams from sites peripheral to the core. The crosses performed (core x core, core x periphery) in this experiment will quantify additive genetic variance for fitness in each site and each experimental group. Additionally, we will test for differentiation among families; do progeny from sires differ after accounting for maternal (dam) effects?

In 2016, we found 1724 two year old plants out of the 2581 locations where plants had previously been found for the qGen2 cohort and 644 seedlings in the qGen3 cohort.

Comparing germination between the qGen2 & qGen3 cohorts:

exp approxFullAcheneCt totalAcheneCt seedlingCt germination
qGen2 6300 26144 2581 41%
qGen3 6200 19777 644 10%

Our crossing success, measured by the proportion of full achenes to total achenes crossed, increased in qGen3 (31%) compared to qGen2 (24%). While we planted approximately the same number of full achenes in the qGen2 & qGen3 cohorts, the germination rate was 4 times greater in qGen2 (41%) compared to qGen3 (10%). This difference was likely due to differences in environmental conditions. The Spring of 2016, was quite dry and probably tough on Echinacea seeds and sprouts.

Start year qGen3: 2015

Start year qGen2: 2013

Location: exPt 1 (dams), remnants Landfill and Staffanson (sires), remnants Landfill (core) & around Landfill (peripheral) and remnants Staffanson (core) & railroad crossing sites (peripheral) (grand-dams), exPt 8 (progeny)

Overlaps with: Heritability of fitness–qGen1

Data collected: We used handheld computers to collect data on seedlings and juvenile plants.

You can find more information about Heritability of fitness–qGen2 & qGen3 and links to previous flog posts regarding this experiment at the background page for the experiment.

The Flowers Are Coming

Today was another great day on Team Echinacea. This morning we continued our work on Q2, and we continued to make significant progress. We measured many plants and found at least five new plants in the experimental site. After a hearty lunch and a short time marveling at ice formations in a water bottle, Amy Dykstra gave a presentation on her research, which included her study of local adaptation of Echinacea. The afternoon was filled with preparations for IS projects (for the Wooster folks) and independent projects for the rest of us. Leah and Laura quickly became adept at catching pollinators, but were not so successful at transferring the collected pollen to fuchsin jelly. The rest of us hunkered down on our computers, read some literature, prepared project proposals and thought about how hard it would be to use NMR and IR to analyze pollen.

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Leah regales us with stories of captured pollinators and attempts at melting fuchsin jelly on a car dashboard.

The exciting news of the day is that we found our first flowering Echinacea in P1 and at Elk Lake Road East! Tomorrow we will find out how many more Echinacea are flowering.

The second flowering Echinacea (found at Elk Lake Road East)!

 

Must destroy all sweet clover!

The gang had a busy day today, almost all of it in the warm June sun. Alyson continued setting up her experimental plots in the Staffanson bog, and spent the afternoon measuring canopy cover and soil pH for her IS project. Meanwhile, the rest of the team (minus Gretel, who was setting up work for q2 juvenile counts) picked up our fleg begs and counted Hesperostipa spartea and weeded in p1. Amy and James found one H. spartea specimen with 137 seeds! We are now up to 17 out of 59 rows surveyed. Meanwhile, Will, Alex and Per led the crew in weeding out the non-native yellow sweet clover (Melilotus) from the periphery of the plot area. Hopefully we eliminated a lot of potential seeds form the seed bank, meaning that in future years the rows will be devoid of this weedy legume and the study Echinacea will have less competition. Stuart also showed me what poison ivy looks like for the third time, and I still don’t think I could pick it out of a lineup.

Per with a bundle of sweet clover picked from p1.

Per with a bundle of sweet clover picked from around p1. This is probably less than 10% of what was removed today.

After some brief (or for Alex, who was cleaning the bathroom, not so brief) chores at the Hjelm House, the team returned to exPt8 (experimental plot 8) to search for juvenile Echinacea  crosses planted in 2013. This meant more time bent over, although now instead of looking for seedlings we were looking for melted bits of toothpick (which were placed to mark seedlings). Some seedlings were in great shape — Alex and I found a couple with basal leaves over 10 cm tall. Others were not in great shape, either dead or missing like Jimmy Hoffa. We got about a third of the work for qGen2 this afternoon. It may rain tomorrow, so we’re bracing for indoors-work and hiding our bicycles inside.

Using a pink sword to claim the new seedling (left) for Team Echinacea. We used cocktail swords to denote seedlings germinating this year from seeds planted in 2013.

Using a pink sword to claim the new seedling (left) for Team Echinacea. We used cocktail swords to denote seedlings germinating this year from achenes sown in 2013.

Project status update: Heritability of fitness–qGen2 & qGen3

Pollen vials from Landfill sire 403 used in qGen3 crossing 2015

Pollen vials from sire 403 used in qGen3

The goal of the qGen2 and qGen3 experiments is to compare the evolutionary potential of two remnant prairie populations of Echinacea angustifolia by estimating the additive genetic variance of fitness under two mating scenarios: crosses performed within the core sites (core x core) and crosses performed between the core site and nearby sites (core x periphery). Additionally, we will test for differentiation among families; do progeny from sires differ after accounting for maternal (dam) effects?

In June 2015 we assessed survival and measured 1-year-old plants from qGen2. During the summer and fall of 2015 we replicated the qGen2 experiment through a second crossing experiment. We sowed the resulting achenes in exPt 8 as our qGen3 cohort.

Read more about the qgen2 and qgen3 experiments.

IMG_5251

Dam to be crossed with pollen from 2 sires

Start year qGen2: 2013

Start year qGen3: 2015

Location: exPt 1 (dams), remnants Landfill and Staffanson (sires), remnants Landfill (core) & around Landfill (peripheral) and remnants Staffanson (core) & railroad crossing sites (peripheral) (grand-dams), exPt 8 (progeny)

Overlaps with: Heritability of fitness–qGen1

 

Summer fieldwork begins in Minnesota

The summer field season is off to a great start! We have assembled an excellent team to investigate ecology and evolution in fragmented prairie habitat focusing on the narrow-leaved purple coneflower as a model organism. Meet members of the team.

Team Echinacea 2015: Danny, Matt, Ben, Will,

Team Echinacea 2015: Danny, Matt, Ben, Will, Gina, Taylor, Lea, Amy, Katherine, Alison, Abby

We started the season with tours of local prairies large and small, including Staffanson Prairie Preserve, Hegg Lake WMA, which are large and protected. Stay tuned for team-members’ first impressions of some of the nearby remnant Echinacea populations.

Team-members hail from near & far: Barrett, Elbow Lake, and Alexandria, Minnesota & California, Alabama, New York, and Rhode Island. They are excited to develop summer projects and they will post their proposals here next week. Our team includes four college students, four who just graduated college, two high school teachers, and one high school student. And there are the old-timers.

To get ready for field work, we took the Hjelm House out of winter storage and cleaned out our storage facilities (g3). We inventoried supplies and made signs and tags for fieldwork. Everyone got a pouch with tools and supplies and Gretel has assigned us all a data collector. This may be (should be) the last year for our trusty handspring visor data collectors. The visors are trustworthy, but the computers and software that run them are showing their age.

The first main activity of the season was assessing survival and growth of 2526 plants in the Q2 experiment, which is designed to quantify the additive genetic variation in two Echinacea populations. The amount of additive genetic variation determines a population’s capacity for adaptation by natural selection. Genetic variation is very important for the persistence of populations in prairie habitat. We’ll find out how much variation Echinacea has, which will give us some ideas about future prospects for these populations in the rough-and-tumble and rapidly changing world out here.

We got rained out several times this week, but managed to measure all 2526 plants. We found a few plants that escaped detection last summer and we even found one seedling. Welcome to the experiment, fellas! We’ve got our eyes on you.

Overwinter survival appears to be quite good and most of the toothpicks we used to identify individual plants made it through the winter too. The tallest plants were just over 20 cm and some plants had 3 or more leaves. This is great news for plants that were sown as seed in fall 2013. Growth conditions are challenging: a cold winter with little snow, a dry spring, shading out by established plants, chewing by herbivores, … it’s a tough life for a prairie plant.

All in all, it promises to be a great summer. We’ll keep you posted.

broadcast seeding

Dwight and Stuart broadcast native prairie seed in experimental plots p1 & p8 on Friday. At 34 °F (1°C) it was the warmest day in a month. It was also very windy –great for spreading seed! We broadcast Bouteloua curtipedula, Schizachyrium scoparium, Galium boreale, and Phlox pilosa directly on the snow. There wasn’t much snow and it was melting. We broadcast Lathyrus venosus in p1. We stored about half of each species, except L. venosus, in the Hjelm house to broadcast in the spring. (Hedging our bets.)

Project status update: Phenology and fitness in experimental plot 1

imageHardAtWork.jpg

Experimental plot 1 (P1) encompasses 11 different experiments originally planted with a total of 10673 Echinacea individuals. These experiments include long-term studies designed to compare the fitness of Echinacea from different remnant populations (“EA from remnants in P1”), examine the effects of inbreeding on plant fitness (“INB” and “INB2”), and explore other genetic properties of Echinacea such as trait heritability (“qGen”). In 2014, Team Echinacea measured plant traits for the 5409 Echinacea plants that remain alive and followed the daily phenology of 567 flowering heads. Echinacea began producing florets on July 1 and continued flowering in P1 until August 24. The data collected in 2014 will allow us to estimate the heritability of various traits and assess the lifetime fitness of plants from the numerous experiments.

Experiment Year planted # alive # flowering # planted
1 1996 1996 314 115 650
2 1997 1997 270 57 600
3 1998 1998 32 3 375
4 1999 1999 542 106 888
5 1999S 1999 297 37 418
6 SPP 2001 318 14 797
7 Inbreeding 2001 221 15 557
8 2001 2001 170 11 350
9 Monica 2003 2003 28 3 100
10 qGen 2003 2501 122 4468
11 INB2 2006 716 41 1470

Start year: 1996

Location: experimental plot 1

Products:

Overlaps with: aphid addition exclusion, Pamela’s functional traits, pollen longevity, pollen addition exclusion

Seedlings in Q2, recruitment experiment, and my first tag!

We started out the day doing what we do best: searching for seedlings in Experimental Plot 8 (a.k.a. Q2). Having braved formidable winds to plant them late last October, Stuart, Gretel, and Ruth were visibly relieved to see them pop up this spring. Since last week Team Echinacea has been diligently tracking down each seedling and “naming” them with colored toothpicks and row location coordinates, accurate to one centimeter.

In the afternoon we located and counted Echinacea in the recruitment experiment, a continuation of the project described in this paper. The procedure is really fun: we find the boundaries of the plots with metal detectors, triangulate points, then search within an area exactly the size of a regulation 175-gram Disc-craft Ultra Star disc (a.k.a. frisbee). Go CUT!

The best part of the day was tagging my first Echinacea. Maybe it just lost its old tag, but I like to think this is the first time this plant has ever born the silver badge. Sometime 10-12 years ago, this seed was planted. Now that it is finally about to flower, it has the honor of going down in history in the databases of the Echinacea Project, living out the rest of its life in the service of science. This 23rd of June, 3.65 m from the southwest corner and 0.79 m from the southeast corner of the northeast plot in Recruit 9, I named a flowerstalk “19061.” Isn’t it beautiful?

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Doesn’t the flower head look ripe? Stuart says we may start to see flowering as early as the end of this week!

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Eventually the time came to leave my new friend and join the rest of the team. This is where they were:

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(Can you spot the team?)

A nice day is Douglas County is a very nice day.

Planting Day Details

We had a very quick and efficient planting last week. Stuart and I drove up to MN on Thursday morning, picking up Katherine Muller on the way in St. Paul. We arrived in Kensington on Thursday evening, and immediately got to work. We broadcasted our remaining little bluestem and side oats gramma grass seeds in the South Field (where we planted our qGen2 achenes this fall, aka CG-8). We walked E/W throughout the plot and each broadcast seed over a 5m area. We also broadcast seed around the edge of the plot. Here’s an inventory of how much we broadcast from each of the collection sites:

Peninsula – 1 quart
Back Hill – 1 quart
LCW – 2 quarts
CR-15 – 1 quart
Tower – 1 quart
Krus – 1 quart
RRX- 1 oz
CG1 – 1 gallon (24 Sept) + 1 gallon (30 Sept) + 2.5 gallons (2 Oct).

We then headed to Hegg Lake to scout out a planting site for the sprouts. We settled on a spot near the parking area, to the west of Amy’s, Caroline’s, and the recruitment plots. The plot is 12m x 30 m with 13 rows and 60 positions. There is a meter spacing between rows and half a meter between positions.

We returned the next morning and began planting by 9:30am. With three of us we were very efficient and finished our last row by 3:30pm. We we lucky to have beautiful weather, it was sunny all day with temperatures in the low-mid 70s and a consistently strong breeze. All positions in the plot were plant-able. Here’s a diagram of the plot:

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Empty circles indicate positions where a sprout was planted and black dots indicate positions where there are nails. Plants begin at position 0.5 in every row. Row 41 is the most western row, and position 0 is closest to the road (and north). There are empty positions at the ends of rows 46 and 48. There is a bent over flag at each of the 4 corners of the plot.

I’m excited to have the sprouts in the ground and to have participated in my first planting. Fingers crossed we have high survival!