2023 Update: Reproductive fitness in remnants experiment

As part of the Echinacea Project’s long-term efforts to monitor reproductive fitness in the remnant populations, we harvested 124 Echinacea seed heads from 16 remnants during summer 2023. All sites burned in 2023 were included in remnant harvest selection and we also prioritized sites with small population sizes. We randomly selected heads from each population at the sites we visited.

Harvesting seed heads and quantifying seed set can help us to better understand how the spatial location and flowering phenology of Echinacea contribute to reproductive fitness. However, this year, we did not conduct field work for phenology, so we were less interested in relating remnant harvest to phenology and spatial mating opportunities. Our primary focus was to examine fire’s affects on reproduction in different sized populations. We narrowed our remnant harvest efforts to small sites where extra data would be helpful in answering questions about how fire influences mating opportunities and seed set across different populations ranging in size. The heads harvested in 2023 are currently in the CBG lab. We have entered the harvest data, and the heads are awaiting inventory!

Echinacea harvest in action!

In order to ensure that we are not disrupting remnant populations, we return achenes to their maternal plants in a way that mimics natural dispersal after they have been processed in the lab. On a recent trip to Minnesota, we visited many small sites, where this process is essential as well as a few bigger ones.

  • Start year: 1996
  • Location: Roadsides, railroad rights of way, and nature preserves in and around Solem Township, MN
  • Overlaps with: Phenology in the Remnants
  • Data collected: The verified harvest list and legend is located here: ~/Dropbox/remData/130_harvestSeedSet/harvest2023/2023remHarvestDataEntry/2023remEaHarvestDE/remEaHarvestVerified
  • Samples collected: ~124 seed heads were collected and are currently at the Chicago Botanic Garden lab awaiting inventory.
  • Products:
    • We will compile seed set data from 2023 into a dataset with seed set data from previous years.
    • Padmini, a student from Carleton College, used some of the remnant data for her externship project in winter 2022.
    • Jared, Amy, and Stuart’s paper “Habitat fragmentation decouples fire-stimulated flowering from plant reproductive fitness” was published in PNAS. Find links and more information here

You can read more about the reproductive 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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