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June 15th, 2016: Day Two!

We started our second day of the field season with tour of Hegg Lake Wildlife Management Area. Stuart told us about the natural history of the area and we observed how management decisions and land use can impact plant communities. Some changes are obvious: Stuart pointed out that the landscape 200 years ago would have been mostly treeless, but now they are abundant between the agricultural fields that cover majority of the region. Other changes are more subtle: we saw a population of Echinacea at Hegg that were much further along in flowering than any others we had seen, but soon learned that these Echinacea were actually a different species–Echinacea pallida, which are not native to this area. Not all human-plant interactions are negative though! In certain areas we saw a large diversity of native plants, some of which were restored and others which persisted despite disturbance, and we finished up our tour of Hegg Lake WMA with a visit to p2, Jennifer’s experimental plot. This summer we will work in the p2 to answer questions about flowering phenology, pollination, and fitness.

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James, Ruth, and Gretel after setting up flags in p8

At lunch, we heard from Ruth about the quantitative genetics experiment (which we call qGen_1, 2, and 3), which aims to test Fischer’s Fundamental Theorem of Evolution in natural populations. After lunch, Lea, Will, Ruth, and I went to set up flags and get ready to measure the youngest cohorts of the qGen experiments. The rest of the group went out to visit other remnant populations and learn more about the lay of the land. Tomorrow we’ll collect the first data for the 2016 field season, when we search for seedlings from the qGen_3 experiment that was planted last fall. Fingers crossed for good weather and lots of seedlings!

Yellow Ladyslipper (Cypripedium parviflorum) at Hegg Lake

Yellow Ladyslipper (Cypripedium parviflorum) at Hegg Lake

Other notable events from 15 June 2016:

  • “What is wind? I’m really flustered as to where it starts. Where does it start?” and “Does wind make noise?” were hot questions on the brains of all team members this morning.
  • We saw a sandhill crane and some really neat yellow ladyslippers at Hegg Lake.
  • I saw a little baby deer sleeping in p1 when we were putting up signs! It was very cute but unfortunately it ran away when Will walked over to take a picture.

 

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