Stipa planting photos

And while I’m back visiting the field blog, here are a handful of photos from the Stipa planting at the end of the summer.






Aphid and ant presentation

As per a request from Daniel, here is a presentation I gave to Team Echinacea way back at the beginning of the summer. Enjoy reliving the magic!

Aphids and ants.ppt

Stipa is done (and so am I!)

Just a quick note to say that Stipa planting was completed by lunch on Wednesday. We were able to plant the vast majority of seeds where they were randomly assigned in the CG, 10 cm north of existing Echinacea positions on the whole meter throughout the garden. I think only two seeds were not planted at all; one was lost off the board and one was missing its awn and ID sticker. About a dozen seeds had to be assigned new locations, either because there was a hole or a rock in the way or because the plant/staple/can’t find flag that we were measuring from could not be located. Not bad! To assign new random positions, I simply grabbed an ID sticker from the sheet of leftover, unused positions, removed the old sticker, stuck the new and marched around the garden planting the last of my legacy to the Echinacea project. The final task will be to replace the can’t find flags that are associated with a Stipa seed with short pins. Hopefully, this will up the chances of finding seedlings next summer. To this end, we also put a toothpick 1 cm north of every seed. Best of luck to the crew put to this test!
Also, sadly, my time with Team Echinacea is coming to a close. I have accepted an offer for an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship to work at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC starting September 1st (gasp, so soon!). I will be working in their environmental risk assessment group, spending MUCH more time at a desk and much less time running around in the field. I hope that my knowledge and skills as a scientist can do some good in the policy world. Thanks for a wonderful year, and a particularly wonderful summer. Stay in touch.

Files for Gretel to make visor forms AND a reminder for Stuart

Here are two spreadsheets with information to be made into visor forms.
The first is a list of Echinacea positions we will measure from, in order to plant Stipa seeds. The relevant worksheet is the first one. In the visor form, I would like to be able to see row, position, Echinacea plant status and a column for notes. Breaking this list into multiple forms would be fine.

Complete list of Stipa positions81409.xls

The second is information for the “Next generation rescue” August seedling refind. I would like block, row, position and number of seedlings in May visible and would like number toothpicks, number toothpicks with no seedling, number new seedlings, longest leaf lengths and notes as editable fields.

Nextgenresc-For Aug 09 visor form.xlsx

And finally, Stuart, could you check out some Stipa bunches in Staffenson and decide how close we could comfortably plant seeds next to the Echinacea in the garden?

More Stipa

I’m about half-way through scanning Stipa seeds and organizing them for planting, and may have underestimated how many we have! I thought we’d have approximately 6 seeds per maternal plant and, if we collected from 400 maternal plants in the field, that’s 2400 seeds. Stuart picked ~2600 positions to plant in. Plenty, right? Well, after assigning positions to seeds from 208 plants, I have 214 to go. That means I underestimated the number of plants we collected from. Also, we’re averaging more like 6.4 seeds per maternal plant. Another underestimation. I think we need another 200 positions to comfortably assign all seeds to their new homes the garden. What do you think?

Stipa spartea seed picture

Below is one of the scans of Stipa seeds collected from Douglas County. This particular set of seeds was collected from a plant at Staffenson Prairie Preserve. The seeds themselves are pointed towards the left side of the image, and extending from them are the long awns that give Stipa it’s common name (porcupine grass). At this stage, they look less like quills, though, because they have dried and started to coil (click on the picture to see it full resolution and you can actually observe the coils and lots of other neat features of the seed, like hair and a dagger tip!). Out in nature, the coiling action would allow the seeds to attach to a disperser or to drill themselves into the ground in preparation for overwintering and germinating the next spring. We’ll be scanning all of the seeds we collected (an estimated 3,000+ seeds from 431 plants), making digital measurements of seed length and width, and planting around 2,500 of them interspersed with Echinacea in the common garden.


Handles revealed

You know you could barely contain yourself with all the excitement and anticipation … here are the handles revealed!

Allegra- Legos
Amanda- Robo Cop
Amy- Joker
Caroline- Riddler
Daniel- Yea Mon
Greg- GT
Gretel- Queen Bee
Kate- Monster
Mimi- Penguin
Stuart- Drone

Stipa spartea collection

For some time, the powers that be on the Echinacea project have thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to compare all we’ve learned from coneflower with another important native component of the prairie?” Well, this summer, study of habitat fragmentation and its ecological and evolutionary impacts broadens to include an additional species. And the winner is … Stipa spartea aka porcupine grass! The time is right now to collect the seed, which will be sown into the common garden later this summer.

Thumbnail image for stipa spartea.jpg

Here’s a link to a page from the Bell Museum of Natural History about Stipa spartea.

Below, you will find the sampling protocol that Greg and I used to collect seeds from Staffenson Prairie this afternoon. Stuart may have thoughts to add and the strategy might change a bit as we run into the reality of different Stipa remnant populations. In addition to remnants, we will also be collecting seeds from roadside transects. Expect that challenge to be met later next week.

Protocol for sampling Stipa spartea in prairie remnants.doc

Fun for flog visitors

Can you match up the Team Echinacea member with his or her handle, that is, the alias used over the walkie talkie radios? Answers to be posted later this week …

The real deal

The clever handle
Queen Bee
Yea Mon

Breeding systems

Here is some information passed on to me by Megan Jensen about the breeding systems of common native prairie species. Notice, there are many holes! Hopefully, this sort of information will assist us in moving to a new, exciting phase of the Echinacea project … which everyone will have to wait just a little longer to hear about. Have I piqued your interest?