2016 Update: Reproductive fitness in remnants

Alex and Leah with one of the first flowering plants of the season!

One of many visits to each flowering plant in prairie remnants.

Assessing fitness is a key part of understanding change in any population. The Echinacea Project has focused on two quantifiable components of reproductive fitness of Echinacea angustifolia: style persistence and seed set. Styles shrivel when they receive compatible pollen, and thus persistence of styles reflects pollen limitation. A floret sets a seeds only when it has been successfully pollinated. Together, these two indicators can be used to predict how effectively individual plants produce viable offspring, giving insights into the persistence of remnant populations.

This year, we counted shriveled and non-shriveled rows of styles on each flowering head of every plant in 28 remnants three times per week. Well after the flowering season, we harvested 104 heads at a subset of these sites. The harvested heads will have their achenes removed, counted, and x-rayed by citizen science volunteers to estimate how many seeds they produced. There were several concurrent projects this summer and in the lab that use these measures, including Amy Waananen’s compatibility study and James Eckhardt’s study of edge effects.

Year: 1996

Location: Roadsides, railroads and rights of way, and nature preserves in and near Solem Township, Minnesota.

Overlaps with: flowering phenology in remnants, mating compatability in remnants

Physical specimens: 104 harvested heads, currently at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Data collected:

  • Style persistence data for each flowering head, collected three times per week, stored in remData
  • Dates and identities of harvested heads, stored on paper datasheets in Harvest 2016 binder and entered electronically into remData

GPS Points Shot: A point for each flowering head, stored under PHEN and SURV records in GeospatialDataBackup



You can find out more about reproductive fitness in the remnants and read previous flog posts about it on the background page for the experiment.


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