A Tale of Flora and Fauna

Today the team learned about Hesperostipa spartea (Stipa) which is affectionately known as porcupine grass. After reviewing the protocol for collection, we made our way down to experimental plot p01 where we received a lesson on identifying flowering Stipa and counting the fruits (imagine a long seed with a tail). We documented the number of culms (stems) and fruits as well as missing fruit in our field notes. This was only the first step but the information collected will help determine how the fitness – an organisms ability to survive and reproduce in an ecosystem – of Stipa grown in experimental plots differs from Stipa growing in prairie remnants.

Dr. Wagenius teaching team Echinacea how to identify Hesperostipa spartea in experimental plot p01.

Later that afternoon, a small team retrieved and deployed emergence traps. The contents of the traps were examined and the specimens were prepared for classification.

Ian straining the contents of an emergence trap.
The contents of an emergence trap. That’s a big bee!

Observations at LCW and YOHW

  1. LCW- The study plot sits at the intersection of two roads, one of which is fairly busy. There were copious amounts of tall Brome grasses (cool season plant), and Lead plants (legume). These plants were observed throughout the study plot. There were also prairie roses lining about 5 feet of the roadside. We also observed one Echinacea angustifolia plant near the roadside. The study plot also contained trees and shrubs. It is suspected that this area was not involved in a recent burn. My group came to this conclusion based on the presence dried plant matter under the living plants. If there were a recent burn in this area, this would not be observed. There were not many flowering plants in this area. I hypothesize that it may be too early in the season or there is a lack of pollinators in the area.
  2. YOHW- The study plot is located in an area with less observed vehicle traffic. There were no tall grasses or dead plant matter. We observed very few identifiable plant species. I hypothesize that this area was burned in the spring. In conclusion, these sites were vastly different. We observed far more plant species at the LCW study plot likely because the area had not undergone a recent burn.
Ning and Liam making observations at YOHW.

Brittany Clay

Echinacea Project 2024

I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I majored in Biology and minored in Environmental Science.  

Pronouns: She/Her

Research Interests

I am interested in learning more about the effect of prescribed burns on pollinator species. 


I am originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, and I currently reside in Dallas, Texas. 

In my spare time I play a mean game of Wordle (I usually get it in 3 or less attempts). I enjoy jigsaw puzzles, reading, talking to my houseplants, and watching reruns of Star Trek. Live long and prosper.