2023 Update: Fire and seedling fitness in remnants

In 2021, Team Echinacea established 76 transects (each 4 m long) across 32 patches of remnant prairie in the study area. We planted seeds in one randomly selected segment per transect in fall 2021 but germination trials in the lab and seedling searches in the remnants during summer 2022 revealed that we had used a bad batch of seed 

In fall 2022, we repeated seed addition experiment using seed harvested in summer 2022. Stuart, Lindsey, and Alex sowed seed within randomly selected segments in November 2022. For fall 2022, we added 12 seedling transects (beng, fern, hutch, torge) and eliminated transects at two disturbed sites with the goal of maximizing variation in fire history across the study area. We sowed seed in 84 transects across 36 remnant prairie patches in 2022. In 54 segments, we added 50 seeds and at 30 randomly selected segments, we added 100. This variation in number of seeds sown will allow us to understand the implications of seedling density.

Cut to 2023! In early June, Team Echinacea searched for seedlings once again, this time, with more success. We found 260 seedlings in total across our 84 transects during our seedling searches (we did two rounds).

In August we returned to our transects and assessed survival of the seedlings that had emerged earlier in the season. Stay tuned for more information on seedling mortality.

We also measured light availability (using a light meter) and soil compaction (using a soil penetrometer) at each of the segments along the transects. This information will give us a better sense of the conditions under which seedlings emerge and survive. And importantly, how does fire influence these conditions?

I spy seedlings! During our search for Echinacea Seedlings, we used toothpicks to keep track of individuals.

Team Echinacea didn’t stop there. In November of 2023, we went back to Minnesota and sowed seed in randomly selected segments in our 84 transects. Stay tuned to see what emerges in the spring!

Wyatt sprinkles seeds along a seed addition transect during a trip to Minnesota in November!
  • Start year: 2021
  • Location: 36 patches of remnant prairie in and around Solem Township, MN
  • Overlaps with: Seed addition transects in remnants
  • Data collected: Seedling search data, par data and soil compaction data are all stored in ~repos/seedaddexpt. Additional information is stored in ~/Dropbox/burnRems/seedExp”
  • Samples or specimens collected: NA
  • Products: Daytona, summer 2023 high school research participant, used the data to ask, “does time since last burn treatment affect seedling emergence?” Materials for this project are located in ~”/Dropbox/teamEchinacea2023/daytonaHoberg”

You can read more about the Fire and seedling fitness in remnants experiment, as well as links to prior flog entries about this experiment, on the background page for this experiment.


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