Tuesday, August 28th

Ruth came this morning with Stuart and Nicholas in tow, just in time for an all-day seedling refind extravaganza. This morning we knocked out East Riley, the frequently mowed prairie remnant with densely clustered Echinacea plants. Kelly and I took on some particularly challenging plants, but were rewarded with this:
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A bee digging her nest next to one of our seedlings! By the time Kelly and I finished searching our plant, the bee had made a hole as big as she was!

After a hearty lunch, we did more seedling refinds, this time at Riley. Here’s Kelly with our first plant of the afternoon. Photo Aug 28, 3 00 28 PM.jpg
The afternoon progressed quickly, ending with Maria, Stuart, Kelly, and I flagging plants for seedling refinds at Loeffler’s Corner– tomorrow’s project!

Wednesday, August 22nd

We kicked off the day refinding Amy’s Echinacea seedlings at KJ’s. If you couldn’t tell from the previous posts, we’re all quite exasperated with KJ’s. You can imagine how ecstatic we all were to wrap up the last 5 plants today and finally get a change of scenery– seedling refinds at East Elk Lake Road!

However, as soon as we arrived KJ’s this morning, I precariously balanced my water bottle on the truck bumper, and then realized we forgot the clipboards. Kelly took the truck to retrieve them and when she returned, clipboards in hand, I couldn’t find my water bottle anywhere. Musing that it got thrown into the neighboring soybean field, I was already conjuring up a birthday present request for a nalgene. That is, until we came to the intersection with 27:
Photo Aug 22, 8 22 03 PM.jpg

My Nalgene got carried a full 3.3 MILES on the bumper of Stuart’s truck! Kelly is simply a smooth driver.

This afternoon we harvested Echinacea heads from the common garden and Hegg Lake, and then harvested Bouteloua curtipendula at both sites.
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Photo Aug 22, 3 35 34 PM.jpg

Adventures in Chicago, August 16-17th

After lunch on Wednesday, Andrew and I left for Chicago to present our posters and give 5 minutes talks at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Thursday we navigated the city, got caught in a downpour, and missed our train. Friday we had better luck– we made it to the garden on time, stayed dry, and both gave strong presentations. In our downtime we visited the gift shop and toured the gardens.

Here are pictures from Friday:
Andrew’s Poster

My talk

Andrew and I after our presentations and pizza dinner

Thursday, August 9th

At 6:30 this morning we piled into the car, headed to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and presented our posters. Although the symposium was dominated by pre-meds, it was a good experience for us to explain our research to undergraduates with different focuses. Next week Andrew and I are off to Chicago to present again at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Here’s a picture of all of us at the conference:

Jill’s Poster

Here is my poster for the University of Minnesota symposium. I may make some changes for the Chicago Botanic Garden symposium, but that depends on how much more data I get through by the 17th. Jillian Gall_REU Poster_Small.pdf

Saturday, August 4th

Posters, posters, posters. That’s what Saturday was all about for Team Echinacea (mostly). Saturday morning Shona, Kelly, and I broke away from poster monotony and headed to Alexandria to check out the farmers market, later ending up in an antique store trying on hats from the 30s.

Here’s what the rest of the gang was up to on Saturday:
-Maria biked to Hjelm house to clean up her data for R
-Katherine did her aphid experiment
-Andrew headed out of town for the day
-Lydia spent time with her Aunt

By the evening, however, everyone was back at town hall glued to our computer screens until the wee hours of the morning. Midnight banana and zucchini bread made by Kelly and Shona kept our spirits up.

Friday, July 27th

So what do 696 ants look like?
Photo Jul 27, 2 16 04 PM.jpgLike this.
I believe these guys are Formica obscuripes. The Formica genus can be identified by the three very distinct ocelli on their foreheads and the short but prominent frontal carinae, the two dark lines extending upward from the bases of the antennae.
Photo Jul 27, 4 32 41 PM.jpgFor most of Friday I worked through my pitfall traps, with Katherine diligently sorting through hundreds of ants, grouping them by the most similar-looking.
Photo Jul 27, 2 16 13 PM.jpgWe also encountered a few questionable ants which may also be Formica obscuripes, but with highly inflated gasters.
Photo Jul 27, 4 33 21 PM.jpg
The progress is slow, but steady– by 5pm, we finished 12 of the 144 traps.

Aside from my life in antworld, the other members of Team Echinacea worked on their individual projects and completed a few smaller tasks including:
-GPSing the recruitment plots
-GPSing a few positions in the common garden
-Scanning data sheets for Amy
-Entering data from seedling searches

Overall, Friday was very productive for all of us and we look forward to more days like it this coming week.

Sunday, July 22nd

Sunday was a much-anticipated day off for all of us in K-town. Kelly’s grandparents were in town, Lydia was off working at Mount Carmel, and Andrew spent time with his girlfriend, Kelsey, showing her around the research sites. Meanwhile, I slept in and made “bark stuff” (an addicting chocolaty dessert) to satisfy my weeklong chocolate craving. I also GRE-ed, made a concerted effort to learn more Italian verbs, and worked on some things for my research back in Maine. Although I don’t have any pictures from the day, I do have some pictures of my research sites in Maine for those who haven’t seen a heaping hunk of serpentine before. The top picture is Pine Hill, a serpentine outcrop, and the picture below it is Settlement Quarry, a granite outcrop.

Saturday, July 15th

With the goal to be done with work by noon, I biked up to the Hjelm house at 6:30 this morning to survey flowering plants in the common garden, and by 7:30 was hunkered down in the Hjelm house basement with the dissecting scope and an army of ants. Since Thursday, I’ve been identifying the ants I collected from Echinacea plants. Ant ID can be incredibly frustrating, given their small size and minute characteristics. For instance, one of the major differences between genera is the number of teeth on the mandibles! Exasperated after two hours of looking through the scope, I decided to pin my ants and return to ID-ing on Monday.
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Photo Jul 14, 8 12 25 AM.jpg
Later this coming week, I’ll also attack the ants I collected from my pitfall traps, some of which have over 100 specimens! I also need to decide how many weeks I’m going to collect from my traps, and how much of the data I can realistically get through before the two poster sessions in August.

Other than my ant party, here’s what else was going on today:

–Kelly flew Felix, our adopted kitten, to his new family this morning!
–Shona, Lydia, Maria, and Andrew surveyed flowering plants in the common garden and then headed to Kelly’s remnants to work on her phenology while she’s out of town
–Katherine worked on her aphid experiment in the common garden

Sunday, July 8th

Today was a quiet Sunday in K-town. While I indulgently slept in this morning, here’s what was going on in the field:

-Katherine, Shona, and Kelly surveyed flowering Echinacea in the common garden
-Andrew successfully observed 5 pollinators of Echinacea today, a much more productive session than some of his sessions earlier in the week
-Lydia crossed some Echinacea and painted floret bracts at Around Landfill and East Elk Lake Road, two of the prairie remnants
-Kelly visited all of her prairie remnants today, observing and recording the various stages of flowering Echinacea in each
-Maria worked with her Dicanthelium at Hegg Lake

Other than fieldwork, a few of us went out to Alexandria yesterday to explore the downtown, visit Big Ole, and nab some Cherry Berry, our favorite self-serve frozen yogurt bar. We also discovered that if you buy a t-shirt and wear it to Cherry Berry on Tuesdays, you can get free frozen yogurt! Yum!
Photo Jul 07, 4 38 44 PM.jpg

Tomorrow, the gang is heading out to Pembina Trail Preserve (between Fertile and Crookston, MN) to count Western prairie fringed orchids (Platanthera praeclara) in wet prairie. Photos to come!

(Again, I can’t figure out why my photos always flip sideways when I upload them or how to fix it)