The Echinacea Show?

Hi flog,

Friday night we watched “The Truman Show” starring Jim Carrey. Since then the roost has been fighting the feeling that our existence is all part of a reality TV show….

Kristen bought an HDMI cord, so that the roost could watch movies such as, “The Truman Show”

Mia saw this beautiful bumblebee visiting a rose this morning. Cameras are everywhere.

This morning me, Mia and Evan went out to Hegg Lake and observed bee visits as part of our study on pollinator efficiency, nicknamed “Pollen in the Bank,” (we call it pollen in the bank, since the bees make “withdrawals” and “deposits” from the pollen on the flower). This morning we observed five small black bees and removed anthers and styles before and after each visit. But where were the cameras? Were the bees actors?

Mia pulled styles from her hand crosses, which aim to see how many grains of pollen are needed to fertilize a single Echinacea floret. One of the styles from Mia’s hand-crosses was shriveled, which probably means that this style was fertilized. Or pretended to be?

While we were waiting for bees we found the cover to Andy’s visor (handheld electronic data recorder). An exciting plot twist?

Back at the roost, we ate corn instead of eggs. Andy, and Mia had friends visit from out of town. We visited Will’s puppy, Shadow. A friendly puppy going through teething? Or a trained actor meant to manipulate us for entertainment.

Andy and Anne made two toll-house pies (giant chocolate chip cookies; and product placement?)


Be the Bee

Post the Big Events you may think that the team’s trips to experimental plot two would be few and far between, well you would be mistaken. Zeke, Evan, Jennifer, and I (hereafter “Team CoWBee”) have been busy working there doing pollinator observations and a lot of painting. Today we went straight to Hegg Lake allowing us to get there while the bees were still sleeping. Zeke and Evan were busy watching the bees. Andy and Morgan joined us to work on phenology. While that was happening I was preoccupied with my independent project. What is my independent project you ask? Well, let me tell you!

Lunch with a view

In pollination biology, it is often thought that the more pollen grains a bee deposits the more efficient it is (the better it is for the plant). However, Echinacea technically only needs one pollen grain to make a seed. Once you consider that not all pollen grains are viable more than more may be necessary to ensure a seed is made. My question is how many pollen grains are necessary for there to be a 90% chance that the seed is made. How in the world am I doing this you may ask? Well, I must be the bee. Not literally but I need to deposit different amounts of pollen on styles and see if a seed is made. To deposit the pollen, I have been using toothpicks, a flosser picks, and a patience. Once I deposit the pollen I will come back remove the style allowing me to count the amount of pollen under a microscope. Today I spent the majority of the time being a bee, performing these hand crosses so that I can remove the styles tomorrow. My goal is to perform a total of 480 crosses (80 heads) (half of these are backups) today I did 54 crosses (nine heads).

Toothpicks aren’t only for hors d’oeuvres

Who uses flossers for their teeth?

A style under a microscope

Still, have a lot of work to do so until next time!


Rain All Day

Today, the weather was not in favor of getting field work done. We spent the morning working on getting things ready for some of the Echinacea Project’s biggest tasks like Demography and Measuring. We also spent time working on our independent projects and learning to code in R.

At lunch, Jennifer gave a practice version of her upcoming talk at the Botany meeting in Rochester, MN. We learned about the maintenance of pollen color in Bellflowers.

After lunch, there was a brief ‘break’ in the rain so we headed out to Tower Road to remove some bird’s foot trefoil. We have been removing this invasive for several years and I think that our progress is easily seen! Evan and I found one monster plant that took the two of us to remove (see picture). It was a bummer to miss a day of field work but it was nice to have some time to catch up on inside tasks.

Evan and I showing of our trophy

Wednesday, July

A rarely seen mammal in MN, dead or alive. This badger was along the roadside but didn’t appear to be hit by a vehicle.

Today was a busy day with groups going different directions. Phenology on P1, Bee photography at P2, insect pan traps, moving insect tents and a lesson on demography with a practicum test. Ryley getting accustomed to running the lycor which measures the photosynthetic rates and has the label micromole CO2/meter squared per second. How cool is that? The Echin Project seems to be flowing like a well oiled machine and the plants too. Tomorrow looks like it may rain so plans were made for Thursday to begin looking at some of the data/specimens we’ve collected over the weeks. Personally, i’m looking forward to Big Event 6: Contact 3-2-1. (I’m thinking of a word beginning with the letter B)

Are plants sentient?

Good evening floggers. Today was an exciting day for Team Echinacea. Big Event 4: Revenge of the Bees occurred this morning out at p2. I unfortunately was unable to attend because I had to stake and move emergence traps. The weather was nice today so I imagine it was a fun time!

What p2 looked like from where I was this morning.

Today was my first day at a new site for the bee emergence tents. Yesterday I collected traps at Hegg Far West. Sadly, there were no bees yesterday. Today I staked and moved tents to Hegg North East with hopes of catching a bee in the traps tomorrow.

Tonight we had our weekly Journal Club. Mia picked an interesting paper titled “Experience teaches plants to learn faster and forget slower in environments where it matters” by Gagliano et al. 2014. Using the sensitive plant they showed that plants are able to show an elementary form of learning. We had a tantalizing discussion about the sentience and value of plants along with a discussion of the methods.

See you tomorrow flog!

Alexandria Gothic

Today the residents of the Roost awoke to a rainy morning in Alexandria. We started off the day with a trip to the grocery store to stock up for the week, followed by several hours of rest and relaxation at the house. Later we got in touch with our inner artists. With Kristen’s help we attempted to recreate some of our favorite paintings (see below). In the evening we enjoyed a delicious dinner of mac and cheese with a jalapeño cheddar cheeto crumble, courtesy of Mia.

Mona Lisa – Leonardo da Vinci


American Gothic – Grant Wood


The Scream – Edvard Munch


The Creation of Adam – Michelangelo

A Morning with Zeke


After surviving Friday the thirteenth, Zeke and I decided to go out to P2 to see if we could get more visits for Pollen in the Bank (Pollinators deposit and withdrawal pollen from the head like it’s a bank). We stayed out there for 2 hours and recorded six bee visits. Once we returned to the Roost, we decided to look at our horoscopes. Most of the qualities don’t match up,but as Kristen said, “the chart doesn’t lie”. Along with horoscope readings, we discussed our vocal ranges and figured out what part everybody would sing. (Of course) I’m the bass in the group. For dinner Zeke prepared onions, potatoes, bacon and mushrooms. The onions were so strong that before Zeke cut one open, the members of the Roost had tears in their eyes. After dinner, we decided to go into town and watch The Incredibles II. It turned out to be a great movie with just the right amount of social commentary. I’m looking forward to what tomorrow holds!

Friday the 13th: AKA Phenology Day

Luckily the fear of Friday the 13th did not hinder Team Echinacea’s efficiency in the field. We actually accomplished quite a list of tasks and made for a productive day.

  • Today was a designated phenology day, so the team split off and headed to P1, P2, SPP, or remnants to collect data


  • John and I finished soil samples at East Elk Lake! We recorded data about the slope, aspect, and bare ground percentage, along with a sample, at almost 160 points.


  • Lunch did not include quite as many debates about what and what is not a sandwich, but we did watch the almost 5 1/2 hour match between Isner and Anderson at Wimbledon!


  • The afternoon included measuring P9 (another hybrid plot at Hegg Lake), work in P2,  moving emersion tents, and aphids.


  • And now it’s the weekend, so Friday the 13th was not too unlucky after all!

Till next time and happy Friday!

The team after phenology in P1

Rain Rain Go Away, Come Again Another Day

Today was a behind the scenes/catch-up day.  Team Echinacea stayed indoors most of the morning  because the weather was not very very favorable for field work.  In the morning, we each spoke to the whole group (with the exception of CoW Bee) to touch base on how our individual projects have been going and when we need to work on them.  Shortly after we talked, it started thundering so we all decided it would be best to stay inside for the duration of the storm.

Pictured: G3 with some scary looking clouds moving in above it

After the storm cleared up, some team members drove out to P2 with Jennifer and did plant phenology!

In the afternoon, Team Echinacea broke off into groups and worked on task force projects.


New interns back at the CBG lab

Hi, I am Selena a fourth year undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz! GO BANANA SLUGS!!!! I am here at CBG doing a summer internship in the Echinacea lab! I am looking at intraspecific competition between two California Asteraceae species Layia platyglossa and Lasthenia californica! 

I also have a mentee, his name is Steve…

I go to Little Village Lawndale high school in the South Side of Chicago. I am entering my Senior year of high school. I am also studying two California species and testing intraspecific competition with varying water treatments. I am helping Selena collect data, so I am here to help!