2019 Update: Dykstra’s Interpopulation Crosses

Small remnant Echinacea populations may suffer from inbreeding depression. To assess whether gene flow (in the form of pollen) from another population could “rescue” these populations from inbreeding depression, we hand pollinated Echinacea from six different prairie remnants with pollen from a large prairie remnant (Staffanson Prairie) and from a relatively small population that we call “Northwest Landfill.” We also performed within-population crosses as a control. Amy Dykstra planted achenes (seeds) that resulted from these crosses in an experimental plot at Hegg Lake WMA.

Plants in the crossing plots were originally found as seedlings like this one

We sowed a total of 15,491 achenes in 2008. 449 of these achenes germinated and emerged as seedlings. Each summer we census the surviving plants and measure them. This summer we found 48 surviving plants. None of these plants has flowered, but we think some of them are close! The largest plant we measured had 4 leaves, the longest of which was 35 cm.

You can read more about the interpopulation crosses, as well as links to prior flog entries mentioning the experiment, on the background page for this experiment.

Start year: 2008

Location: Hegg Lake WMA

Data collected: Plant fitness measurements (plant status, number of rosettes, number of leaves, and length of longest leaf), and notes about herbivory. Contact Amy Dykstra to access this data.

Products: Dykstra, A. B. 2013. Seedling recruitment in fragmented populations of Echinacea angustifolia. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Minnesota. PDF

2019 Update: Pulse-steady pollination experiment

In 2019 Team Echinacea conducted a new experiment called “Pulse-Steady,” with roots in Ashley Barto’s 2017 REU project. The experiment investigates whether flowering Echinacea plants which received a resource pulse (pollination every three days) set seed at a different rate to Echinacea which received a steady flow of resources (pollination every day.)

Shea expresses frustration with the bees who beat us to the pollen—bagging flowering plants to ensure we had pollen sources became critical at the end of flowering!

Stuart and Gretel selected 48 flowering Echinacea with single flowering heads and assigned 24 to the pulse treatment, and the other 24 to the steady treatment. The team placed pollinator exclusion bags on the heads of all plants prior to the beginning of flowering to ensure that humans were the only pollinators. The team returned to exPt 2 every day from July 16 to August 7 to count anthers and styles and hand-pollinate the 48 heads, though rain caused pollen to present at strange times or not at all on some days. The team collected pollen from other flowering plants in exPt2 as well as bagged heads around Hegg Lake. Pollen samples included a minimum of four sires to ensure that compatible S-alleles were present in the mix. Pollinators collected additional pollen from heads in the experiment after pollinating the styles, to prevent self-pollen from clogging the styles and to replenish dwindling pollen supplies. Human pollinators frequently competed with insect pollinators, as pollen was scarce at the end of the flowering season, and had to wave off bees from taking pollen from experimental heads and pollen donors in the plot.

In December, Carleton externs Jack, Eli and Emma worked on a modified ACE protocol to process the harvested pulse-steady heads. They cleaned the heads and carefully separated the achenes based on their position in the head so that we can investigate whether seed set differs at the beginning, middle and end of flowering between the treatments, as well as whether seed set differs based on style “freshness” in the pulse treatment. They also scanned the heads with achenes separated out by location in the head.

Start year: 2019

Location: exPt 2, Douglas County, MN

Overlaps with: Flowering phenology in experimental plots, common garden experiment

Data/materials collected: The team harvested 48 heads in the experiment which have been cleaned and are ready to be randomized and x-rayed at the CBG. Each head has 8 envelopes associated with it (7 envelopes of achenes and 1 of chaff.)

Maps and datasheets for the field experiment are located at ~Dropbox\teamEchinacea2019\pulseSteady

The cleaning protocol and datasheets relevant to cleaning are located at ~Dropbox\CGData\150_clean\clean2019\inb2PulseSteady

2019 update: Amy Dykstra’s local adaptation experiment

This experiment was designed to study how well adapted Echinacea populations are to their local environments. Amy collected achenes from Echinacea populations in western South Dakota, central South Dakota, and Minnesota, and then sowed seeds from all three sources into experimental plots near each collection site. You can read more about the experiment and see a map of the seed source sites on the background page for this experiment.

This summer, during our annual census of the experimental plots, we found 67 living Echinacea plants in the western South Dakota plot, including 9 flowering plants. We found 116 living plants, including one flowering plant in the Minnesota plot. This was the first flowering plant in the Minnesota plot! (We abandoned the central SD plot after it was inadvertently sprayed in 2009, killing all the Echinacea). For more details and graphs, please read this brief report.

First flowering plant in the MN local adaptation plot!

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

Data/ materials collected: Plant fitness measurements (plant status, number of rosettes, number of leaves, and length of longest leaf), heads from all flowering plants

Products: Dykstra, A. B. 2013. Seedling recruitment in fragmented populations of Echinacea angustifolia. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Minnesota. PDF

2019 Update: Seedling Establishment

This field season the team continued the seedling recruitment experiment begun in 2007. The original goal of the project was to determine the rates of establishment and growth of seedlings in remnant populations of Echinacea angustifolia. From 2007 to 2013, plants which had flowered in the preceding year were visited in the spring to find any resulting seedlings. Each fall since then the team visits the plants, re-finds the seedlings and measures the living offspring.

In 2019 Team Echinacea visited 69 focal maternal plants in 12 prairie remnants to determine the survival and growth of their offspring. The team searched for 128 of the original 955 seedlings and found 87 of them (10 fewer than were found in 2018.) However, the team also re-found 27 seedlings which could not be located in 2018. None of the original seedlings flowered this year.

In addition to the annual seedling search, in 2019 the team began working on a project to relate the fitness and mating scene of maternal plants to their offspring. In late October 2019, Erin and Riley staked to the locations of 451 maternal plants included in the original experiment which now have “inactive” circles with no living seedlings. They visited these maternal plants because they were not included in demo in 2018 or 2019, and their goal was to determine the status of every original maternal plant. Since then, a group of Team Echinacea alums and current members has begun working to prepare the data for analysis in 2020 with the goal of submitting a manuscript in the spring.

The first day of searching occurred at East Elk Lake Road, where 13 of the original maternal plants still have living offspring.

Sites with seedling searches
East Elk Lake Road, East Riley, East of Town Hall, KJ’s, Loeffler’s Corner, Landfill, Nessman, Northwest of Landfill, Riley, Steven’s Approach, South of Golf Course, Staffanson Prairie

Start year: 2007

Location: Douglas County, MN

Overlaps with: Demographic census in the remnants

Data/materials collected: The EchinaceaSeedlings repository holds the data for this experiment. Lea Richardson restructured the repo in December 2019 to facilitate collaboration on the new project.

Notes on the project and master datasheet scans are at ~Dropbox\remData\115_trackSeedlings\slingRefindsFall2019

Data specific to the new 2019 project, including maps and datasheets used to refind the inactive circle maternal plants, is at ~Dropbox\slingProject2019

Team members involved with the 2019 project: Lea Richardson, Erin Eichenberger, Riley Thoen, Drake Mullett, Amy Waananen, Scott Nordstrom, Will Reed, Amy Dykstra, Gretel Kiefer , Stuart Wagenius

Products: Amy Dykstra used seedling survival data from 2010 and 2011 to model population growth rates as a part of her dissertation.

You can read more about seedling establishment, as well as links to prior flog entries mentioning the experiment, on the background page for this experiment.

2019 update: Demographic census in remnants

Poor weather conditions delayed demo this year but did not dampen our spirits! In 2019 Team Echinacea added 4031 visor records to demo and 1431 GPS points to surv. The largest effort this summer occurred at Aanenson where eight team members took demo records on over 200 flowering plants. We found flowering plants at Northwest of Landfill with tags from 1995 in situ, meaning the plants were at least several years older than most of the team. We also found non-angustifolia Echinacea invading prairie remnants Dog and Yellow Orchid Hill.

The team does demo at everyone’s favorite site: East Riley! Also known as Whose Loc Is It Anyway? Where the status is “Can’t find” and the GPS points don’t matter.

This year we performed demo and surv at 32 prairie remnants and 10 additional sites with angustifolia populations. For our smaller sites we visit every mature plant (ones which have flowered before.) At the larger sites we measure a subsample of the mature population. At every site we also perform flowering demo, where we visit plants which flowered for the first time or were not included in the subsample. We record the status of each plant we visit, its neighbors and the number of heads it produced. All flowering plants are tagged and shot in surv, and in the coming months we will use demap to reconcile the 2019 demo and surv records with each other as well as those from previous years to construct our spatial dataset of reproductive fitness in the tallgrass prairies of our study area.

Total Demo
Bill Thom’s Gate, Common Garden, Dog, East of Town Hall, Golf Course, Hegg Lake, Martinson’s Approach, Nessman, North of Golf Course, REL, RHE, RHP, RHS, RHX, RKE, RKW, Randt, Railroad Crossing Douglas County, South of Golf Course, Sign, Town Hall, Tower, Transplant Plot, West of Aanenson, Woody’s, Yellow Orchid Hill

Annual Sample
Aanenson, Around Landfill, East Elk Lake Road, East Riley, KJ’s, Krusmark’s , Loeffler’s Corner, Landfill, North of Railroad Crossing, Norwest of Landfill and North of Northwest of Landfill (lumped,) On 27, Riley, Railroad Crossing, Steven’s Approach, Staffanson Prairie

In addition to the annual collection of data, this year Erin began developing a study to investigate whether flowering return interval and isolation by distance are correlated in Echinacea.

Start year: 1995

Location: Unbroken (never tilled) remnant prairies in Douglas County, MN, located along roadsides, nature preserves, railroad right-of-ways and privately-owned land.

Overlaps with: Flowering phenology in remnants, fire and flowering at SPP, reproductive fitness in remnants, EA fire & fitness

Data: Access the most recent copies of allDemoDemo.RData and allSurv.RData at ~Dropbox\demapSupplements\demapInputFiles. Demap accepts these files and the demap team will clean and reconcile them in the demap repository. ~Dropbox\geospatialDataBackup2019 houses the raw GPS jobs while the aiisummer2019 repo houses the raw demo records.

Data related to the flowering isolation study can be found in the floiso repository (contact Erin Eichenberger for access) and in the folder ~Dropbox\floweringIsolation2019

Products: Amy Dykstra’s dissertation included matrix projection modeling using demographic data

Project “demap” merges phenological, spatial and demographic data for remnant plants

You can read more about the demographic census in the remnants, as well as links to prior flog entries mentioning the experiment, on the background page for this experiment.

2019 Update: Experimental plot management

This summer Jay Fordham conducted an experiment in experimental plot 8 to determine an effective method for eradicating Fraxinus pennsylvanica, or green ash. Team Echinacea is concerned with the spread of green ash in our experimental plots because it crowds out native herbs. The Echinacea in exPt8 may be at particular risk due to their young age relative to individuals in other plots. A prior attempt to manage ash in exPt8 with triclopyr (brand name Garlon) largely failed, resulting in only 3% mortality.

Jay devised three treatments of  triclopyr application to green ash. The three treatments were 1) A foliar application where he painted all leaves with triclopyr; 2) A bark application where he cut each ash 10cm from the base and applied triclopyr to the remaining above-ground stem; and 3) A cambium application where he cut each ash 10cm from the base, scraped off the exterior bark with a knife, and applied triclopyr to the remaining above-ground stem. He divided exPt8 into 35 treatment sections and randomly assigned a treatment to each section. He then randomized the treatment application order and, with the help of the team, treated 438 green ash trees from July 22nd to August 8th. Jay then assessed ash mortality on August 27th and 28th and found the cambium application to be most effective. Jay presented his findings at the 2019 Midstates Undergraduate Research Symposium in St. Louis on November 1-2. His presentation is available to view and download here.

Triclopyr treatment Mean Proportion Dead Stems
Foliar application 0.005
Cutting and bark application 0.333
Cutting and cambium application 0.498

In addition to the green ash management experiment in exPt8, the team removed Bird’s-foot trefoil from exPt1 and along the bordering road. The team also removed sweet clover from within and around exPt1, exPt2 and exPt3. The team cut back sumac from the easternmost rows of exPt1.

Jay brandishing sweet clover plants that the team pulled in exPt1

In June the team planted Asclepias viridiflora in exPt1 at regular intervals. Stuart initially assessed approximately 124 surviving plugs prior to planting. Erin and Riley, while pulling flags marking the planting locations in September, did not observe any surviving milkweed plants. The team also planted Carex gravida and Carex brevior in the path around exPt1. The team planted three of the same carex species at each location in a triangular configuration. Erin shot the planting positions with the GPS pole in the center of the three plants, or between two where two survived, or north of a single plant where one survived. In October she observed that approximately 2/3rds of the carex plantings were present.

Location: exPts 1, 2 and 8

Data/materials collected: Weeds were discarded outside the plot as they were removed.

Find information about Jay’s experiment at ~Dropbox\teamEchinacea2019\jayFordham

Find information about the planting locations of the Asclepias viridiflora at ~Dropbox\CGData\Asclepias\plantPlugs2019.csv

Find the two GPS jobs containing the carex locations in ~Dropbox\geospatialDataBackup2019, saved in three formats in temporaryDarwBackups2019, convertedXML2019 and convertedASVandCSV2019. The job names are CAREX_P1_20190801_DARW and CAREX_P1_20191003_DARW.

2019 Update: Pollinators on Roadsides

The diversity and abundance of bees native to the tallgrass prairies of Minnesota are declining; one potential reason is changes in how land is used and managed. Native bees provide vital pollination services to our native prairie plants as well as agricultural crops. It is important to understand the factors involved in the decline of pollinators so they can be combatted and our plants be protected. In summer 2019, the focus of the Pollinators on Roadsides project was to collect bees using yellow pan traps and to take into account the burn history of the collection sites. We investigated the burn history of the collection sites to compare the bee collections from the last three years and determine if there is a relationship between burning and pollinator community composition. Thanks to local government records, inquiry with private land owners, and observation of recent burn evidence we discovered which of the 38 sites had a history of prescribed burning.

In summer 2019 Shea Issendorf and John Van Kampen collected a total of 422 bees from 38 yellow pan traps placed six times throughout the field season (June 28, July 11, July 18, July 31, August 8 and August 19). Trap locations include different land types such as agriculture, restored prairie and developed land. We determined the burn history of the trap locations in the last three years (2019, 2018 and 2017,) and whether the burns occurred in the spring, fall or both. We stored the bees in in vials of ethanol in freezers until they were pinned by Shea Issendorf and Mike Humphrey. We found that a lunchbox with ice packs could comfortably hold all the vials from a collection date for transportation from the field to the CBG.

The design and goal of this experiment is based on the original 2004 experiment by Wagenius and Lyon. They studied the relationship between characteristics of land and the abundance and diversity of pollinators. Using the data that came out of 2004, the reboot in 2017, and the continuation throughout 2018 and 2019, we observe how pollinator abundance and diversity has changed. With this valuable evidence of declining native pollinator communities, there is opportunity to change the way in which natural lands are used and how surrounding lands are treated (such as through burning, herbicide application and fragmentation).

Yellow pan traps resemble the yellow flowers of the Asteraceae family that native bees are attracted to.

 Start Year: 2004, rebooted 2017

Location: Roadsides/ditches around Solem Township. GPS coordinates for each trap are in a Google Map which Stuart Wagenius can share as needed.

Overlaps With: Ground nesting bees

Data/Materials Collected: 386 bee specimens collected; currently dried, pinned and stored at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Specimens will be classified by Mike Humphrey before being sent to the University of Minnesota for further identification

Pinning records:

~Dropbox\teamEchinacea2019\sheaIssendorf\YPT 2019 Si\Si_YPTdatasheets2019.xlsx

 Land uses/7 traps that have burn history within last 3 years:

~Dropbox\teamEchinacea2019\sheaIssendorf\YPT 2019 Si\YPT trap land uses 1.xlsx

Other files associated with the project can be found in the folder


Team Members involved with this project: Shea Issendorf (2019,) Mike Humphrey (2018-2019,) John Van Kampen (2018-2019,) Kristen Manion (2017-2018,) Alex Hajek (2017,) and Steph Pimm Lyon (2004)

You can read more about pollinators on roadsides, as well as links to prior flog entries mentioning the experiment, on the background page for this experiment.

2019 Update: West Central Area Environmental Learning Center

In the fall of 2018, the Echinacea Project scientists came to West Central Area Schools (WCA) and mapped out twelve plots to transplant E. angustifolia into the following summer. The WCA Environmental Learning Center has 35 acres of restored prairie, making it a perfect place to plant experimental plot 10. During the summer of 2019, Team Echinacea planted over 1400 E. angustifolia seedlings into the 12 subplots. Three plantings were performed: the first was a planting organized by Michael and had offspring from exPt1, the second consisted of plants from Amy W’s gene flow experiment, and the third planting had offspring from the Big Event. All plants originate from Grant or Douglas County, MN. To test how different fire regimes affect fitness in Echinacea, folks from West Central Area will apply a fall burn treatment to four plots, a spring burn treatment to four other plots, and the remaining four plots will not be burned. 

The team after planting the original cohort of Echinacea in experimental plot 10. It was a long day!

During science classes with John VanKempen, WCA high school students will assess the effects of differential burning regimes on the fitness of E. angustifolia. For the first time this fall, juniors in VanKempen’s classes used data they collected on plants to answer their own scientific inquiries. Students developed hypotheses, then measured various morphological traits on surviving Echinacea in the 12 plots. The students used the data they collected to create graphs based on their data. VanKempen plans to continually integrate these Echinacea experimental plots into his classroom lessons and hopes other teachers at WCA will utilize the experimental plots for student science projects.

Start year: 2018

Location: West Central Area High School’s Environmental Learning Center, Barrett, MN.

Overlaps with: Pollinators and Echinacea male fitness, Gene flow in remnants

Data collected: Planting and survival data for seedlings planted in summer 2019. GPS points taken for plots. Planting data is available in the Echinacea Project ~Dropbox/CGData/195_plant/. Contact John VanKempen for survival data taken by his students. GPS points are available here: ~Dropbox\geospatialDataBackup2019\planting2019\nailStakeWCA.csv

Products: High School Posters. Contact John VanKempen for info.

2019 Update: Flowering phenology in experimental plots

            Each year, we assess flowering phenology in experimental plots to determine mating potential for individual plants and see how a number of factors may affect flowering phenology. Some of the factors we have investigated in the past include heritability, burning, and climate.

2019 was truly a special year for Echinacea flowering phenology in experimental plots. There were flowering plants in four – yes FOUR – experimental plots. We had the usual flowering plants in exPt1 and exPt2 at Hegg Lake. We also had a flowering plant in exPt8 (qgen2 and qgen3) and exPt9 at Hegg Lake. Unfortunately, we did not see the flowering plant with an E. pallida dam at exPt9 until late in the season, so we did not take phenology in exPt9.

This Echinacea head is mid-flowering. It has more than 2 rows shedding pollen and more than 11 immature florets.

This year, we visited the three other plots and followed the usual Echinacea phenology protocol. We recorded first flowering day and subsequently recorded dates of “mid” and “late” flowering. Finally, we recorded the final flowering date of each plant.

In addition to the single flowering plants in exPt8 and exPt9, exPt1 had 63 flowering heads we tracked for phenology and exPt2 had a whopping 1207! The first flowering head in exPt1 started on July 3rd, while the first head in exPt2 started flowering on July 1st. The last day of flowering in exPt1 and exPt2 was August 21st. What a long summer of taking phenology data!

Start year: 2005

Location: exPt1, exPt2, Heritability of fitness-qGen2 & qGen3, exPt9

Overlaps with: Heritability of flowering timecommon garden experimentphenology in the remnants

Data/ materials collected: phenology data (start date, mid flowering, end date, etc…), harvested heads for the ACE protocol. All phenology data can be found in the cgData repository in the subfolder p1p2Phenology.

Products: Jack Schill’s externship project (jack-schill-climate-and-phenology-report), multiple publications

Past team members who worked on this project: Jennifer Ison, Will Reed, Amy Waananen

2019 Update: Echinacea pallida Flowering Phenology

Echinacea pallida is a species of Echinacea that is not native to Minnesota. It was mistakenly introduced to our study area during a restoration of Hegg Lake WMA. Since 2011, Team Echinacea has visited the pallida restoration and taken flowering phenology and collected demography on the non-native. This year, we decapitated all flowering Echinacea pallida to avoid interspecific pollination with the local Echinacea angustifolia. We fear that Echinacea hybrids may be infertile, so we want to avoid the establishment of as many hybrids as possible.

            This year, a team slogged through the Hegg Lake restoration to find flowering Echinacea pallida. We recorded the number of heads on each plant, the number of rosettes (some plants were absolutely massive), shot gps points at all plants, and then chopped the flowering heads off! We visited the restoration and cut E. pallida heads off on July 8th, 9th and 10th of 2019. We revisited plants and shot gps points for them on July 11th, July 12th, and August 1st.

You can distinguish E. pallida and angustifolia heads by pollen color; E. angustifolia has yellow pollen, but E. pallida has white pollen (above).

            Overall, we found and shot points for 97 flowering E. pallida. On average, each plant produced 2.5 flowering heads. That’s way more than an average E. angustifolia!The average rosette count was 5.4, another big number! The largest plant had 23 rosettes.

            We collected tissue samples of E. angustifolia, E. pallida, and known hybrids so Elif can assess ploidy at the Chicago Botanic Garden using the flow cytometer.

Start year: 2011

Location: Hegg Lake Wildlife Management Area Restoration

Overlaps with: Echinacea hybrids (exPt6, exPt7, exPt9), flowering phenology in remnants, demographic census in remnants

Data collected: Demography data, head counts, rosette counts, gps points shot for each E. pallida. Cut Echinacea pallida heads, tissue samples for ploidy analysis. Find demo and phenology visor records in the aiisummer2019 repository. Phenology visor records were taken when we cut heads and demography records were taken when we shot GPS points. GPS points can be found in Demap.

Previous team members who worked on this project: Nicholas Goldsmith (2014), Shona Sanford-Long (2012), Dayvis Blasini (2013), and Cam Shorb (2014)