Goats in Paradise

Hello Flognation! Today started with moving Stuart’s herd of goats to a new paddock. Excitingly, there are now 11 goats in the herd! This is 3 more than there were the last time we moved the herd. It raises the questions, “How many goats will Stuart accept into his herd?”, “How many goats would it take to eat all the buckthorn between the bog and p1?”, “How many goats is too many goats?”, “If they chose to storm the Hjelm house, could we stop all of them?”, and “Wait are there only 10 goats inside the fence?” Luckily, all the goats were happy to move into their new buckthorn paradise, possibly with the exception of Baby, one of the newcomer goats who felt more at home with people than goats.

After goat herding, I went to go collect leaf tissue from plants in the remnant populations where I’m studying pollen movement. The rest of the team transitioned into measuring mode and proceeded to power through measuring many rows in p1. In p1, they encountered some exciting wildlife, namely this caterpillar:

After lunch, some of the team continued measuring, while the rest of the group went to collect demo data at Woody’s. Although Chekov was fussy, the demo team persisted and also encountered this important buddy:



Tuesday in Railroad Crossing and P1

Hey flog!

It was cool and overcast today in Kensington which made for wonderful weather to work in. The team spent the morning in the remnants doing demography at Railroad Crossing. Darwin’s reciever was malfunctioning, so Chekov got a chance to shine. In the afternoon, the team spent some time measuring in P1. It’s a lot of searching for staples, but one does find many cool bugs rifling through the grass.

The Return of a Legend

Woah! This week I decided to write a normal flog instead of continuing along the path of my patented Flvlog (video flogs). My Youtube channel was exploding with popularity and I just couldn’t handle the stress of posting a video this week, so I decided to record a tale of the return of a legend in pen and ink (well digital ink, technically). Anywho, here we are:

Today, on the 12th day of the 8th month in 2019, a Team Echinacea legend returned to the Hjelm house after a journey through the harrowing Rocky Mountains. If you are unaware of this individual, it is Will Reed, a 5-year Team Echinacea veteran. Will spent his last year in graduate school at University of Colorado Boulder working in the Rockies. He is currently studying soil moisture and plant phenotypic plasticity. We hope to hear more updates from Will on the flog soon!

With William in our arsenal, we started today off with some phenology (p1, p2, and remnant phenology; Will did #RemPhen today!). After we took phenology data, we took a hiatus from field work because it was raining. During this time, we got work done! A lot of us did some coding in R to process and set up data. Drake and I also met with Stuart to discuss our projects going forward! Will even got a chance to discuss Team Echinacea data things with Stuart. It was a productive rainy time! In the afternoon, we measured experimental plot 1. Will was very happy to measure again, even though many of the positions we found in p1 were staples. We did, however, finish measuring a lot of the inbreeding 2 experiment (which I am excited about, as it is the experiment I am doing my independent project on). At the end of the day, it was tough to see Will go. He will always be in my heart, but I truly just hope he can enjoy his research and continue down a successful career path.

Thanks for visiting, Will! I hope to see you soon 🙂

Will enjoyed reminiscing on his Team Echinacea days today. A great candid photo!

ESA Poster: Where do bees build their nests? The influence of land use history and microhabitat on nest presence of solitary, ground-nesting bees

Hi Flog! I am at ESA this week presenting results from my Master’s Thesis work on solitary, ground-nesting bees. Check out my poster below!

Check out this link for more updates on this experiment.

Orchid Trip Part 2!

Hello Flog!

John’s post yesterday provided plenty of updates about Friday’s work on the Hjelm House front. Now it’s my turn to update on the second half of the Western Prairie Fringe Orchid Project, in which Gretel, Stuart, Riley, Drake, and I went out into the wet prairie to assess orchid fitness.

Out in the Nature Conservancy’s wet prairie reserves (which were much drier this time around), we revisited all of the nearly 1000 orchids we identified on the first trip earlier this summer. First, we counted and squeezed all the seed pods to estimate the plant’s seed set, and then we finished shooting GPS points each plant we found. We finished our field work in good time, finishing staking of the South plot in 3 hours, and the Northwest plot in less than 2.

The swollen seed pods of an orchid stalk, with the desiccated flowers still attached
Drake had the chance to meet Pedicularis lanceolata (Pedicularis canadensis is more common around Douglas County)
We also stumbled upon a chubby monarch butterfly chomping on some swamp milkweed

Skeleton (endo) Crew

The Echin Team members divided and conquered today with some of the crew (Julie, Stuart, Gretel, Riley and Drake) migrating to northern MN to access the reproduction of the Prairie Orchid. A biannual trip the team makes with Gretel leading the way.

ThePrairie Orchid

The leftovers consisted of Erin, Shea and John working out of headquarters. Shea and I did phenology at P2, while Erin did phenology in the remnants and P1. The aphid addition/exclusion experiment then proceeded at P2. After lunch, we began measuring P2 and finished a whopping 3% of the total area.

Erin and Shea measuring P2 and fighting off pesky chiggers.
Erin (Chipmunk Whisperer) charms a rodent to feed from her hand.

A little bit of everything!

Yesterday, John and I got started bright and early to set out our yellow pan traps. John takes half the route and I have the other half, and we converge back at Hjelm, but it’s not until the afternoon that the fun stuff happens. When we got back to Hjelm around 9:30 we found the rest of the team had completed the great goat move in which they intricately move the goats to another area to chew down the buckthorn. I believe that job ended with a conversation about which goat Stuart would choose to roast on the large bonfire we plan on having soon. Let’s just say this, Style the Goat has another thing coming, and moving the goats is not Team Echinacea’s easiest task.

As the day commenced, it was time for some Demo and Surv at Around Landfill. There were many plants to make records for so one team took off with Checkov and another with Darwin, our two GPS units, to find our beloved Echinacea plants. We found a lot of flowering plants as we weaved in and out of barbed wire and avoided electric fences. Active searching was in full force as we scoped every likely and unlikely area for Echinacea to inhabit, hoping to find some newly flowering plants.

Over lunch, Drake and Jay updated us on their personal projects/experiments and I’m excited to learn more as they continue to develop. It’s been fun this summer seeing everyone take on their role as a teammate. We often help each other with our personal projects and are always open to asking and answering questions to bounce ideas off one another.

John and I left Surv a little early in the afternoon to collect our pan traps and bees. This was our 5th collection this summer and we have one more to go. There is still a fair amount of bees to be pinned but I have narrowed down my study field so I know which trap collections to prioritize for my personal project and the pinning that relates to that. The rest of the team is off to do more Orchid work tomorrow in Northern Minnesota so we wish them the best of luck and safe travels!

Until next time,

Shea Issendorf.

Botany conference 2.0

Greetings from Team Echinacea East!

Last week Mia and I presented Echinacea research at the Botany Conference in Tucson AZ. The Botany conference was an inspiring and invigorating experience (see Scott’s post too!). Not only was the research top-notch but there were plenty of workshops and networking events. Mia went to a workshop on applying to graduate school and got to interact with many other undergraduate researchers. I got to interact with other faculty at PUI (primary undergraduate institutions) and learned so much from colleagues are similar institutions. Lyn Loveless, my predecessor from the College of Wooster, was also at the conference.

Three ‘generations’ of The College of Wooster plant ecology researchers (Mia, Lyn, & Jennifer)

The weather was HOT, like you can’t go outside after 8 am hot. However, we both got up early a few mornings for hikes through the Tucson mountain park. We may have also enjoyed the resorts lazy river post-talks a few afternoons.

Our last sunset in Tucson

Mia presented a poster on work that Laura Leventhal (see Team Echinacea 2016) started and that she carried on. Her poster was a hybrid #betterposter and was very well received. I have to admit that I was skeptical about the #betterposter but after seeing them ‘in action’ during a poster session, they are much most engaging and do a nice job of conveying the main message of a project.
Click here for Mia’s poster

I presented a talk on some of the pollinator efficiency work we have been doing with Echinacea since 2010! It was neat to put all this work together into one (short) presentation. Thank you to all the team members who contributed to these data!
Click here for Jennifer’s presentation

Fleeing bees and finding plants

Our morning began fairly quietly, with phenology in P2 and the remnants underway. We officially put the pulse-steady pollination experiment to bed for the field season, with no more styles left to pollinate. Chekov was resurrected and put to the test staking the corners of P9.

After lunch the entire team headed out to P9 to begin (and ultimately end!) measuring. We had a more exciting afternoon than any of us had anticipated; while measuring has its own thrills, no massive leaves or first-time flowering plants could compare with the thrill of accidentally sticking your foot in a Bombus griseocollis nest and hearing the resulting furious buzzing. I exclaimed “Uh—BEES!” and Jay and I scrambled back down the row we were working on. While I chose a two-legged locomotive strategy, I looked back and saw Jay army-crawling away from the threat. We both assumed Jay was a goner, and I continued my sprint southward.

Jay demonstrating the little-used “panicked flop” escape technique

The griseocollis were all buzz and no sting, and we returned to the plant we abandoned. There I found a katydid and a grub of some kind duking it out. The katydid was happy to climb around my arm for a photo op, and even happier to fall back into the duff and skitter away.

Before making our great escape Jay had spotted a mysterious orchid-like plant, which we lead Stuart to after he and John found another in a nearby row. We all puzzled over the plant and took careful note of its position so we can return to it later. Stuart suggested that errant seeds, micorrhizae or both may have traveled from the Chicago Botanic Garden to the plot on our equiptment, resulting in the plants establishing in the plot. Hopefully as it blooms and we get more opinions on the identity we’ll be able to make better-informed guesses about where they came from!

Our mystery plant

We were able to finish measuring every plant in P9, and will revisit the sea of white flags for rechecks in the near future!

Laying the first few flags…
…and the sea we left behind!

Demography in the Corn

This morning the team split into two groups: one doing the normal morning routine of phenology and the pulse/steady experiments in P2, and the other doing demography in remnant site On 27. There were a little over 100 plants to visit, several of which were in the neighboring corn field! Then at lunch, the team got personal project updates from Erin and Julie. In the afternoon John and I worked in P8 on my personal project which involves the management of green ash within experimental plots. After Wednesday of this week I will likely be finished with treating ash!

There was an echinacea plant growing through the hole of a tag that I found today during demography!