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Saturday adventures of the townhall and an update on my research

So, I have decided to break my flog posts in two so that readers can be updated on the goings-on of the team and my personal research.

Town Hall

Saturday started off with breakfast and everyone cleaning up the mess around the place that had accumulated all week. However, most of the cleaning was done while I showered. I did many of the dishes and emptied the dishwasher but when I got out to the living room I was blown away by how quickly 7 people can clean a kitchen, dining room, and living room.

After cleaning, some people (I believe Ren, Avery, and Miyauna) went grocery shopping and others (Erin, Jay, and myself) went to a coffee shop and then bought groceries for the week.

Jay and Erin at Starbucks.

When we returned to Townhall, Erin, Jay, Julie and I started a new game of Sundew Valley together. We had some trouble with it crashing in the beginning but we eventually got it going. Jay and Erin’s characters were accidentally wearing the same outfit (talk about a fashion faux pas…) and since I had never played before I spent ~15 minutes playing the fishing mini-game only to catch on herring and some seaweed. Despite Sundew Valleys innocent appearance the game is a lot more involved than I anticipated.

Not pictured is Julie who was sitting across from Jay… Sorry!

After some videogames, the whole gang watched the 2005 blockbuster hit and should-have-been-oscar-winner-for-best-picture movie, Sky High. Which some might describe as, “A clever hybrid of Harry Potter and The Incredibles”. Which I had purchased at an Alexandria gas station for $9.00.

Erin, Avery, Ren, Miyauna, Jay, and Riley watching Sky High.

Julie and Amy watching too!

At the end of the night some of us relaxed by watching Jeopardy episodes from the year 1999-2000. We were all amazed to see our work equipment as a part of the second place winner’s prize package.

Graffiti help anyone?

Then everyone went to sleep because everyone minus me had to get up for a 6 am adventure to check out orchids!

Personal Research Update

For our readers that are unfamiliar, I am Stuart’s incoming Ph.D. student starting in the Fall. So, this Summer has been a lot about me exploring the tallgrass prairies and beginning the research that I will be doing for the foreseeable future.

Here is a brief-ish research statement for what I am doing this Summer:

“Parasitic plants are keystone species in many environments they’re found in and they act as keystone species by playing a role in nutrient cycling and in prairies they are hypothesized as being keystone species by keeping dominant grasses in check by suppressing their growth. However, it is unknown if parasites are keystone species in prairies and if they are, it is unknown which species serve this role. Therefore, I aim to collect seeds from many common species that could possibly serve as hosts. I will do this in order to conduct an experiment in which I grow parasites and hosts together in order to determine the effects of parasites on common plant species.

Common potential hosts I aim to collect seed from are:

Asclepias, Solidago, Poa, Bromus, Hesperostipa, Liatris, Ratibida, Rudbeckia, Artemesia, Cirsium, Galium, Carex, Viola, Dalea, Amorpha, Amphicarpaea, Gentiana, Gentianopsis, Astragalus, Lathyrus, Geranium, Lotus, Phlox, Medicargo, Melilotus, Pediomelum, Trifolium, Vicia, Calylophus, Boechera, Rosa, Heuchera, Silene, Oenothera, Geum, Achillea, Apocynum, Delphinium, Erigeron, Helianthus, Koeleria, and more.”

Here is me with one of my parasitic plant species, Pedicularis canadensis.

P. canadensis was the first plant I collected seeds from this summer.

P. canadensis flowering stalks have already gone to seed and dispersed all of their seeds. Luckily they produce a ton of small seeds and I was able to quickly collect them all with the help of Julie, Riley, and Ruth earlier in the Summer.

I also collected seeds from Hesperostipa spartea (Porcupine Grass) and a handful of other host species. I have been struggling to finish collecting seeds from the parasitic Comandra umbellata (Bastard Toadflax) because many of its seeds have been eaten by some pesky granivore.

Some eaten C. umbellata fruits.

Luckily, I have been able to collect 1700 C. umbellata seeds and I am only 100 shy of my goal. Even luckier, some of the C. umbellata are beginning to flower again!

This is just one of many. Many haven’t even opened their buds yet! I hope they produce fruits I can collect.

This summer has already been a fun one and full of exciting events and challenges I’ve had to overcome. Here is to many more weeks in Minnesota and me accomplishing my fieldwork goals!

Also, I watched someone get airlifted when I was collecting C. umbellata fruits. Crazy… Hope they are doing alright!
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