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Project status update: Dykstra’s local adaptation

Lots of basal leaves but no flowering in Amy's local adaptation experiment in 2015

Plenty of basal leaves but no flowering in Amy Dykstra’s local adaptation experimental plots in 2015

In 2008, Amy Dykstra began an experiment to study how adapted Echinacea populations are to their local environments. She collected achenes from three populations distributed across a wide section of Echinacea angustifolia’s range, from Western South Dakota to our study site in Western Minnesota. She established a plot near each collection site where she sowed achenes from all sites. Since then, Amy has assessed survival and fitness traits of the individuals in her plots annually.

Amy expected to see increasing proportions of achenes emerging as seedlings with decreasing distance between the seed source and the sowing site. Instead she found that seedling emergence increased by sowing site from western to central South Dakota to Minnesota, and that at each site achenes from Minnesota and western South Dakota had higher seedling emergence than those collected at the central South Dakota site.  This result suggests that there isn’t evidence of local adaptation in Echinacea seedling establishment, but that source population matters, potentially due to maternal effects.

After six years of tracking survival to fitness, however, there is some indication that local adaptation may play a role in later life stages.  No individuals have flowered yet in any of the plots, which is somewhat surprising for Echinacea angustifolia individuals which are typically 5-7 years old before flowering for the first time. Amy will continue this study in 2016, so stay tuned for updates!

Start year: 2008

Location: Grand River National Grassland (Western South Dakota), Samuel H. Ordway Prairie (Central South Dakota), Staffanson Prairie Preserve (West Central Minnesota), and Hegg Lake WMA (West Central Minnesota).

Overlaps with: Dykstra’s interpopulation crosses

Team members who have worked on this project: Amy Dykstra, flog posts written by Amy may provide additional detail about activities associated the the development and continuing progress on this project.

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