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August 21: Last day on the Job

Today was my last day of work for this summer. It was also Hattie and Per’s last days. They go back to school next week! It’s crazy how much this summer has flown by! To inaugurate my last day we started with rechecking demography records. We then had our last lunch with the Wagenius’ as a whole. They are headed off towards Chicago where Gretel, Hattie, and Per will be staying for the fall (Gretel will be back and forth). The afternoon became warmer and the sky cleared up. The rest of the team got trained in on how to harvest Echinacea heads in P1. I stayed behind to finish up some work on my independent project. At the end of the day Abby and Will left without saying goodbye (I wish you both good luck in the new school year and hope that excellent times come your way). But out biggest trouble was figuring out what to do with Ricarda/Ricardo/Erica/Rica/Ric/Rick/Richard/Ricky. We debated whether to let him go on the grape vine outside the Hjelm house or to bring him back to town hall. We ultimately decided to let Ricarda/Ricardo/Erica/Rica/Ric/Rick/Richard/Ricky go on the grape vine outside of the Hjelm house.

We then headed home for our usual Friday night pizza making session! We made wonderful veggie, sausage and green pepper, and pineapple pizzas! We then went outside to watch the sunset through the smoke from the wildfires in Montana and Washington. The sun was a beautiful orb of orange as it set over the soybean fields to the west of K-town. Then someone put Kent in the shower.

Well hello there Kent!

Well hello there Kent!

August 6th: Rain, Lessons in Statistics and Thistles!

Rainy weather covered the research area this morning, so the team worked on their independent projects, entering data, working on plant identification, web resources, and learning R! At 11 Stuart gave us all a lesson in statistics, that involved analyzing Taylor’s data using a linear model and an ANOVA test. The analysis gave some interesting results!

After lunch the whole team headed out to P2 at Hegg lake to pull thistles. We pulled hundreds of thistles, maybe even thousands.

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Abby, Ali, and Amy pull thistles in p2

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Katherine in pain as she holds a bundle of thistles waiting for me to take a picture

After an hour or two storm clouds started to roll in over Kensington, headed in our direction. We decided to call it a day before we got to wet.

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Storm Clouds headed towards us

 

 

 

Grand Water Bottle Clip 3000

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Happy Friday!

My beautiful bracts!

My beautiful bracts!

Ben, Gina, & Matt practice  precise painting

Ben, Gina, & Matt practice precise painting

Today was another successful day with the team! We had a morning filled with phenology at half of the sites and later everyone divided to get many things accomplished. After lunch, some of us practiced painting the bracts of Echinacea; this wasn’t too hard, it was actually very pleasant. Using toothpicks, we had to be sure to paint the tops of bracts as well as the bottom while making sure not to get paint on the florets or apply too much.

Two heads are weirder than one

I see absolutely nothing wrong here.

Here, Lea and I were at p2 collecting phenology data in the afternoon. There are 80 rows in this plot and it took us almost the whole day to get the job done! I’m from the south and it honestly takes a lot for me to confess that a place is hot, but the way the sun was blazing today, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it out of the prairie to deliver this flog post to you! It was so “warm” today I was seeing double headed Echinacea…….. sheesh.

To conclude a week full of accomplishments, Stuart sliced up the best watermelon ever. One shouldn’t argue this watermelon’s caliber; I know this was the best watermelon ever because it replenished all the sense I lost in p2 today. I’d say that everyone else enjoyed this glorious melon as well! Today was a good Friday!

Watermelon after work!

Watermelon after work!

No shortage of excitement for Team Echinacea: an ode to Sparky

Today Team Echinacea 2014 completed our fourth week of work. All in all it was an eventful week complete with phenological observations and an orchid adventure but fireworks still awaited us…

While the team has grown accustomed to watching sparks fly in the field (between compatible Echinacea plants of course), we were not entirely prepared for the sparks that surged forth during dinner this evening. Content with our fine meal, Team Echinacea was reveling in stimulating conversation as our refrigerator (Sparky) began to hiss, pop, and buzz before bursting into flames (only a slight embellishment of actual events). Though the electrical fire and accompanying pyrotechnic display was short-lived and the damage negligible, the smell of melting rubber lingers on.

RIP Sparky, we will miss your cold touch.

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.

Friday of Fun!

Today was a day for independent projects. I’m not really sure what everyone did and Marie is currently trying to hit me with a mini beach ball.
Ok. I’m back now. This morning, I woke up at the usual time to meet with my parents and go to Staffanson to collect data for my flowering phenology project. Today, we found about 5 or 6 heads that look like they could flower within the next few days!
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Ilse and Reina spent the morning sewing more pollinator exclusion bags for Kory’s project and Lydia spent some more time with her aphids (this seems to be her new favorite activity) while Kory and Sara Z practiced capturing and identifying pollinators.
Marie and Dayvis went to Hegg Lake where they measured plants and practiced videotaping flowering.
Back at the Hjelm house, Stuart, Pete, and Dwight worked hard installing gutters to keep the basement from flooding when it rains.
Marie made us all some delicious pizza for dinner! I highly recommend the one with tofu and buffalo chicken wing sauce.
A good Friday for all, I think. 🙂
Enjoy the weekend!

Sync-ing in the Rain (Aug 30)

Maria here.

Woke up this morning to some rumbling thunder in the distance.

The skies looked grey, but nothing too bad. We discussed how to do all the things we had to do at Staffanson: demo rechecks, harvesting Kelly’s Echinacea heads, removing twist-ties and flags from heads/plants that Kelly won’t harvest, figuring out 6 nearest neighboring Echinacea plants to each of Kelly’s plants that was going to be harvested, and pulling up ant traps. Whew!

We did some individual project stuff from 9 to 11am. Jill finished up sorting ants. Katherine and Kelly went to NWLF and NNWLF to pull ant traps and remove twist-ties from heads. I was in CG 99 South, measuring Dichanthelium from my maternal lines experiment, and got 4 rows done before 11am.

We set off for Staffanson, all 5 of us cozy in the truck. The corn and perennial weeds greeted us happily on the dirt road leading into Staffanson. Jill went to pull up her ant traps and then helped Kelly to remove twist-ties and flags. Stuart, Katherine and I brought out Sulu (the GPS), R2D2 (the netbook), and paper datasheets, and tried to figure out how to determine the 6 nearest neighbors to Kelly’s harvest heads. We concluded that the most efficient way was to use R to determine the 6 mapped nearest neighbors, obtain the distance to the 6th neighbor, then use a reel tape to measure out the distance and search to see if there are any other nearest neighbors closer than the mapped one. We would have to do it another day.

Here’s a fancy spider Stuart found on his knee today. Photo courtesy of Katherine.
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On the way back for lunch, Stuart and Kelly belabored the pros and cons of color coding the top and bottom GPS poles.

After lunch we set out for Staffanson again. Kelly worked solo to harvest heads, while the four of us split into 2 teams (1 GPS + 1 clipboard) to do demo rechecks. After a little while, it started sprinkling and we heard some distant portentous thunder, so we turned back and left Staffanson.

Back at Hjelm House, Jill and Katherine cleaned up the ant traps and went to pull ant traps at Nessman. Stuart demonstrated dissecting achenes from Echinacea heads for Kelly, so she can dissect the heads she harvested when she’s at Carleton.

Lastly, as requested by Stuart, the “Sync Your Visor” song I came up with as an alternative to “Sync, Sync, Visor Sync”:

(To the tune of “Oh My Darling Clementine”)

Sync your visor, sync your visor,
Sync your visor everytime;
Data lost and gone forever
Don’t be sorry – sync it now!

Any suggestions for improvement are much welcome.

Glacial Lakes State Park

This past weekend a group of us went over to Glacial Lakes State Park for some hiking and a change of scenery (i.e. trees). During our hike we passed a few sections of remnant prairie, evident by the presence of lead plant (Amorpha canescens). One of these had what appeared to be a flowering Echinacea angustifolia. Due to a combination of curiosity and habit, I walked over to check the plant for aphids. Sure enough, there they were:

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They looked like Aphis echinaceae, though they were slightly bigger than the aphids I’ve seen around here. The reason I mention this is that the specimens for Aphis echinaceae were collected in our field sites throughout Douglas County. Glacial Lakes State Park is a little under 30 miles away. I didn’t collect any aphids, but I thought it was an observation worth sharing.

Monday July 18th

Monday was quite sultry, if I remember correctly. In the morning we divided forces to look at flowering phenology in C1 and to finish measuring the plants in Amy Dykstra’s experiment at Hegg Lake. She has two experimental plots there: one containing the offspring of inter-remnant crosses and the other containing seeds collected from source populations between Minnesota and South Dakota. She sowed seeds in 2008 and has been tracking their progress every year since. Once we finished finding and measuring plants, Stuart took GPS points for each experimental plot:

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While he was doing that, Shona trekked off into the prairie to check on the plants in her hybridization experiment.

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Meanwhile, Lydia and I waited by the truck and took advantage of the opportunity for an epic pose. I’d say it was successfully epic.

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