A little pollen poll

Hey team,

Things have settled down a bit and I’ve started work again on the great pollen challenge! I have ten locations for each of ~150 slides, and for each location I have been recording the count of pollen grains, as well as the number of species as best I can tell (I have also taken notes with descriptions of pollen in each location). My goals at this stage are to get better at recognizing pollen grains of the same species in multiple photos and to get a feel for the diversity and amount of pollen on the pollinators we caught. I’d also like to see if there’s any pollen load size/diversity consistency within a pollinator species.

I have started looking at the male Melissodes sp. and so far it looks like about half of them carry no pollen at all, but some of them have multiple grains at each location.

My question for you is… What makes an insect a ‘pollinator’ in the context of this study? We are focusing on pollinators, and are not including insects that we caught but know are not effective pollinators (ex. syrphid flies), so there needs to be some way to distinguish between other effective and non-effective pollinators. I have thought about making a cutoff like, say, in order for an insect to be a ‘pollinator’ it must have one grain of pollen per location. That way insects that happen to be carrying one grain of pollen (total) but that aren’t really pollinators wouldn’t be counted as pollinators in this study. However, any cutoff seems very arbitrary. It almost seems better to include anything that we know carried pollen, even one grain.

But what about those male Melissodes sp.? If some individuals carry no pollen and others carry quite a bit, do they all count as pollinators, or just the ones that carried pollen?

If you have any ideas, please put them in the comments!

Mimi’s Last Day- long ago, but not forgotten!




You WISH you were eating these cakes!!!!!!

We miss you, Mimi!

You too, Greg!

Compiled pollinator observation/capture data

Hello friends,

We just finished a rousing lunchtime discussion on the virtues of archiving, so I thought this might be an appropriate time to post our compiled data set from all four days of pollinator observations and captures.

Thanks for playing; here’s your consolation prize


Slide 1: Heliopsis

Slide 2: Coreopsis

But don’t they all kind of look the same??

Pollinator collection updates

Yesterday, between ten people at ten remnants, we collected…
68 pollinators!!

(That’s almost 70!)

A big thanks to all who participated. You had an impressive capture rate and recorded your vials flawlessly.

We will go out to collect again tomorrow morning, each person to a different randomly chosen site (I will post these on the flog later today). Please arrive at Hjelm House at 7:30 to synch visors and pick up supplies so that we can all begin observations at 8:00 AM. I will provide muffins and coffee.

Here are some updates to the pollinator collection protocol– please read them and jot them down (if necessary) on your printed protocol before going out tomorrow morning.

1) As you all noticed, the visor option for “pollinator observed” does not allow you to move on unless you provide a response. There are two methods for selecting either “yes” or “no”. What I would prefer that you do is click on the words “pollinator observed” and click either “yes” or “no” on the resulting screen. The other possible method is to check the box for “yes” or check and un-check the box for “no”, but this should only serve as a backup plan.

2) When entering your stopwatch time, please use a decimal between minutes and seconds. So, if it takes six minutes and twenty seconds for a pollinator to arrive, your entry should read “6.20”.

3) If you observe but do not capture a pollinator, enter the data for the observation, select “no” for “pollinator captured?” and move on to the next plant. Do not stay at that plant to wait for more pollinators.

If you have any other questions or helpful tips for tomorrow’s collection crew please write them in the comments and we will address them before tomorrow morning.

Thanks again, guys– I guess dreams really do come true.

Name that pollen



Your choices are: Heliopsis, Coreopsis, and Echinacea. (hint: there is only one species of pollen in each photo.)

Put your guesses in the comments, and we’ll reveal the answers on America’s birthday! Go ahead, put some money on it.

-Daniel and Amanda

EDIT– We will not be announcing the results until there are at least three guesses in the comments!! Get guessin, folks. And happy July 4th!

Come back, Candyman!

Today we got the microscope camera in the mail– here are the results!


This is the long-awaited photo of Echinacea angustifolia pollen. THIS IS IT, GUYS. Are you crying yet?

Daniel and Amanda

Nobody outblogs Amanda Gallinat

I was recently informed that Daniel Rath has been “outblogging” me on the FLog, and I agree, he has– but it stops now. Daniel updates the FLog several times a week, and that’s cool. So from now on, every post Daniel posts, I too will post a post. Plus one.

Consider this a challenge, Daniel Rath!

To make up for lost time, and because if you’re anything like my mom (and you might be my mom– hi mom!) you love photos, here is a visual record of the past two days.

1) The past two mornings have been surprisingly cold here in K-town! Around 11:00 AM the truck bed has absorbed enough heat for a really fine cuddle.

2) On the way back from the ’99 South garden, Gretal (Queen Bee) and I saw a little hummingbird trying to run with the big dogs (some swallows) atop the telephone line.

3) In the end, he was a bit of an outcast.

4) Today many of us went to the landfill to practice our independent project techniques (characterizing floral neighborhoods, catching pollinators, collecting pollen from non-Echinacea flowers, etc). I expected a dump, but I found a wonderland– just see for yourselves!

Don’t be fooled, it’s not Italy- it’s a DUMP. In Kensington!!

Mimi couldn’t imagine what good deed could have landed her in such a place!

Then we found this Prairie Lily (Lilium Philidelphicum)

We got pulled over by this cop, and she made us characterize a floral neighborhood!

There was also some flowering Leadplant (Amorpha canescens)
fl leadplant.jpg

I will post again soon about how my independent project plans are shaping up, so stay tuned. Don’t forget to leave feedback in the comments!!

Edit: Click on the photos if you’d like a slightly larger image.

The most over-the-top proposal since Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

Hello again, field log readers–

I know it’s been a trying twenty hours of waiting, but I now have more details regarding my independent project!


Just by clicking on my proposal (above) you will get an idea of the specific questions I’d like to answer, how I plan to go about answering those questions and how my study fits into this summer’s bigger picture work on competition for pollination. Take it from me, it’s a riveting read!

I would greatly appreciate any questions or comments about this proposal– whether you are part of the Project or just an Echinacea enthusiast in K-town for Runestone Days, feel free to write in the comments. Thanks!

A time for new beginnings


Hello, Echinacea lovers–

I’m Amanda Gallinat, a recent grad of Carleton College and brand new field assistant to the Echinacea project. After a quick transition from Northfield to K-Town (Kensington, to those of you who don’t live here) I am finally settling into the daily routine of seedling searches, lunch, and more seedling searches.

On Monday we paid a visit to Staffenson Prairie and memorized the scientific and common name of each plant species we saw. Just kidding! We did get an idea of the general composition of the prairie, as broken down into four groups: C3 grasses, C4 grasses, legumes and forbs. I managed to leave with the ability to identify a large handful of species, and I’ll be sure to update the Flog with my progress in learning all the rest!

Over the past few days, we’ve focused a lot of our energy on seedling searches, and it seems as though we newbies are really getting the hang of the procedure. So far we haven’t searched any sites brimming with seedlings, but we have all seen some fine examples and each group has had the life-affirming experience of finding and identifying a seedling, if only once.

We’ve also spent some quality time discussing independent project ideas. My primary area of interest is plant-pollinator interactions, and I am excited to spend this summer investigating how the diversity of pollen carried by pollinators differs between remnant sizes (design details will be posted soon, so check in!). This should fit well with three other independent projects relating to competition for pollination, and might give us insight into why an increased frequency of pollinator visitation in isolated populations of Echinacea does not correlate with an increased seed set. Think we can solve the mystery? Stay tuned for updates…

If you have any questions or words of encouragement, feel free to leave them in the comments!