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Life with Team Echinacea

Hello all!

This is Daniel with another update on what team Echinacea has been up to in the past week. Allegra, Stuart and I have become what I like to call the “Staffanson Crew”, and we are responsible for doing phenology at Staffanson every other day. Today we got the time down to about 2 hours and 20 minutes, from 3.5 hours originally. The process was made a lot more efficient by splitting up sections and giving everyone a separate checklist. Of course, the temperature was almost 40 below, so that was slightly unpleasant. Add the wind and the fact that I was only wearing 2 thin layers, and you have a recipe for hypothermia. However, I persevered, thinking of my avocado and sausage sandwiches waiting for me at the Hjelm house.

The pollinator project has been going along well, with Kate, Amanda and Mimi hard at working sorting out the oodles of data they have obtained. Greg and Kate are based in what I like to call the “Basement of Oppression”, working on making slides and taking pollen photos. Amanda is pinning bees and creating agar slides with the different pollen loads, then photographing them. Finally, Mimi is working on sorting out all the different types of flowering plants found at each sites. Meanwhile, who knows what Amy and Caroline are up to? Reviewing papers and entering data most likely, tasks far beyond the comprehension of we undergrads.

In my case, I have been searching for the different plants in the common garden that we identified as having spittle. I spent all afternoon in the common garden yesterday, and it was a ton of fun, especially since I saw so many interesting things. The most interesting thing of all though, was watching a bunch of ants pick up and move an aphid that was sitting on a leaf. The aphid may have been dead or alive (alive would be so cool!), but since I was silly enough to forget my camera, I guess I’ll never know.

Most of the plants I looked at have aphids on them, but I will need to wait until I finish looking at them all before I draw any conclusions. Meanwhile, our transect searches are done until next week. However, I have found aphids on many of the plants I saw during our Staffanson searches, so I remain hopeful!

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