Botany conference 2.0

Greetings from Team Echinacea East!

Last week Mia and I presented Echinacea research at the Botany Conference in Tucson AZ. The Botany conference was an inspiring and invigorating experience (see Scott’s post too!). Not only was the research top-notch but there were plenty of workshops and networking events. Mia went to a workshop on applying to graduate school and got to interact with many other undergraduate researchers. I got to interact with other faculty at PUI (primary undergraduate institutions) and learned so much from colleagues are similar institutions. Lyn Loveless, my predecessor from the College of Wooster, was also at the conference.

Three ‘generations’ of The College of Wooster plant ecology researchers (Mia, Lyn, & Jennifer)

The weather was HOT, like you can’t go outside after 8 am hot. However, we both got up early a few mornings for hikes through the Tucson mountain park. We may have also enjoyed the resorts lazy river post-talks a few afternoons.

Our last sunset in Tucson

Mia presented a poster on work that Laura Leventhal (see Team Echinacea 2016) started and that she carried on. Her poster was a hybrid #betterposter and was very well received. I have to admit that I was skeptical about the #betterposter but after seeing them ‘in action’ during a poster session, they are much most engaging and do a nice job of conveying the main message of a project.
Click here for Mia’s poster

I presented a talk on some of the pollinator efficiency work we have been doing with Echinacea since 2010! It was neat to put all this work together into one (short) presentation. Thank you to all the team members who contributed to these data!
Click here for Jennifer’s presentation

Jennifer L. Ison

Jennifer L. Ison
Echinacea Project 2019
Assistant Professor of Biology, The College of Wooster (Wooster, Ohio), 2015 -present

Research interests

I’m a plant ecologist who is interested in how plants in human-altered landscapes mate. In particular, I’ve examined how spatial isolation and variation in flowering times limit mating opportunities between plants. Recently, we have examined how visits by different native bee species impact reproduction in insect-pollinated plants. We have found that the specialist-solitary bee, Andrena rudbeckia, is the most efficient Echinacea pollinator, both in terms of pollinating florets (individual flowers) and removing pollen (Page et al. submitted; Zelman 2019 thesis). However, we have also found that Andrena is typically only found in the largest Echinacea populations and is only active during early and peak flowering time (Ison et al. 2018 Oikos).

Last summer we conducted a large field experiment to understand how visits from different native bees contribute to a plant’s male fitness (siring success). For more information about this project please read Mia’s great flog post about the project. This summer Mia, Avery, Miyauna, and Ren are working genotyping the offspring from this study using previously developed genetic tools.


I’ve collaborated with the Echinacea Project for many years (before there was even a flog!). I started as a Team Member back in 2003 after graduating from St. Olaf College. After a few years, I started my dissertation research on Echinacea. After completing my dissertation, I took a few years off the Echinacea Project to work on a plant that takes 30 days (instead of 7 years) to flower. However, I couldn’t stay away from Echinacea and have been examining Echinacea‘s pollinators since 2013. When I am not watching bees on Echinacea, I enjoy hiking, especially with my very active nearly-four-year-old.

Jennifer L. Ison

Echinacea Project 2018

Assistant Professor of Biology, The College of Wooster (Wooster, Ohio), 2015 -present

Research Interests

Reproduction in flowering plants is particularly vulnerable to fragmentation and the loss of insect pollinators. Typically plants with hermaphroditic flowers have mechanisms that reduce the likelihood of pollination within the same flower and require a vector (i.e., wind or pollinator) for successful sexual reproduction. Native solitary bees are common pollinators for many plants species. However, pollination research has mainly focused on large social bees—bumblebees and the non-native honeybee. In addition, most studies only quantify seed set (i.e., the female fitness of a plant), thus ignoring fitness contributions from siring seeds (i.e., the male fitness of a plant).

This summer we will quantify how four generalist solitary bee taxa contribute to total male fitness in a mate-limited prairie plant, Echinacea angustifolia. We will also compare how each pollinator taxon varies in its relative contribution to a plant’s male and female fitness. To quantify male and female fitness, we will use a combination of a novel manipulative field experiment and previously developed genetic tools. This summer’s research will build on previous pollination research by College of Wooster thesis students. In 2016, we found that Echinacea’s pollinator community changes over the course of the flowering season (see: Ison, JL, LJ. Prescott, SW Nordstrom, A Waananen, and S Wagenius. 2018. Pollinator-mediated mechanisms for increased reproductive success in early flowering plants. Oikos. doi:10.1111/oik.04882)


Hi floggers! I’ve collaborated with the Echinacea project for many years (before there was even a flog!). I started as a Team Member back in 2003 after graduating from St. Olaf College. After few years, I started my dissertation research on Echinacea.  After completing my dissertation, I took a few years off the Echinacea Project to work on a plant that takes 30 days (instead of 7 years) to flower. However, I couldn’t stay away from Echinacea and have been examining Echinacea‘s pollinators since 2013. When I am not watching bees on Echinacea, I enjoy hiking and tennis. I also have a very active nearly-three-year-old who loves being outside.

Hegg Lake 2009

Thank you all for your hard work when we measured my Hegg Lake common garden a week back. It was by far the fastest the Hegg garden was ever measured and there were no rechecks besides can’t finds! Below is some information regarding the Hegg garden.
Total plants planted in May 2006: 3,945
Number alive in August 2006: 3,699 (94%)
Number alive in August 2007: 3,320 (84%)
Number alive in August 2008: 3,008 (76%)
Number alive in August 2009: 2,834 (72%)
As you can see the length of the longest leaf actually decreases from 2008 to 2009. However, there were way more plants with multiple rosettes this year than in years past. I think the leaf length decreased because last year there was so much duff on the ground that the petioles of the leaves grew really long. The plants definitely looked healthy this year after the spring burn than they did last year. What was really exciting was I had my first flowering plant this year in row 7 position 44! Below is a picture of that flowering plant, and one of everyone measuring at Hegg.
Also, thank you to everyone in the town hall for being so hospitable to my dad, Oscar, and me. We had a great week and except my weird heat rash (it eventually went away) it was a lot of fun. Best of luck with the final push at the end of the season!
Jennifer, Oscar, and John

Diedre and Jake’s posters

I wanted to share Diedre and Jake’s REU posters with everyone…they both did a great job!
JJF Poster-final.pdf

Lani and Denise’s posters

Hey team Echinacea,
Lani and Denise officially finished their REU internships last Friday and are both back in the California bay area. They both worked really hard on their projects and ended up with some really neat studies. At the end of their internship they created and presented a poster for a research symposium. Their posters turned out really well and I wanted to share them with you. Below are links to each of their posters…enjoy!
Lani’s poster: Download file
Denise’s poster: Download file

Team Chicago home safe

Hi all,
Lani, Denise and I are back in Chicago safe and sound. After such a rainy start to the day overall the drive was smooth and even included a Disney sing along. My reunion with my puppy, Raven, was filled with lots of jumping and tail wagging.
Photo of Raven from before I left for Minnesota…tried to take one tonight but she was too hyper.

Ben, Lecia, and Julie, I had a great time working with all of you and I wish you the best of luck in your future ecological endeavors. Everyone else I will see you back in Chicago or in Minnesota in the near future. Have a great rest of the summer Team Echinacea and we will keep you posted on our progress here in Chicago.

The horrors, I mean wonders, of Hegg

Hi all,
Since this is my first flog entry of the season at quick intro for our new readers. My name is Jennifer and I am a Ph.D. graduate student at University of Illinois-Chicago in an integrated program called LEAP (landscapes ecological and anthropogenic processes) . I just finished up my third year and have been part of the Echinacea project for longer than I often like to admit. If you are an avid flog reader you may remember be from such classic 2007 entries like “Fishing in Minnesota�? and “Microsatellites in Echinacea…they do exist.�? Today I am going to discussing my plot at Hegg Lake. In the summer 2005 we followed the DAILY flowering phenology of the 224 flowering plants in the main Common Garden. We took the seeds from the flowering heads and germinated and planted around 4,000 (3,942 to be exact) and planted them in the spring of 2006 at a new common garden site at on DNR owned land near Hegg Lake (about 7.5 miles from the main Common Garden site). Hegg Lake is a beautiful site and it is, fortunately, on top of a small plateau so there is nearly always a breeze and the mosquitoes stay away.
Measuring at Hegg Lake 2008

We have just finished measuring and rechecking Hegg and I have final survival and growth info for this year. Unfortunately the last winter was really rough on my poor little plants and death was much higher than I would have liked. This also meant measuring and rechecking Hegg took a long time this year. Next year I must come up with a better method for measuring and rechecking. My current plan is to buy 50 meter tapes and measure along the 50 meter tape…I think this will dramatically reduce the time. Below is info for the last three years of survival and growth data. The first number the the year, then the average number of leaves, then the average height of tallest leaf (cm) and finally percent survival (cumulative).
2006- 2.13- 6.36- 94%
2007- 2.14- 13.24- 85%
2008- 2.07- 13.61- 76%

As you can see my plants barely grew (and that is only the ones that survived) and the average number of leaves actually went down. More disappointing is the survival which took at hit with the really long cold winter. That is it for Hegg this year…glad it is done…hopefully next year, with a site burn, my plants will grow more and death won’t be as bad.

Fishing in Minnesota

It is one of my greatest failures that after four summers in a part of Minnesota where there are more lakes than people I still do not know how to fish. Therefore, this summer when I am not measuring Echinacea I can often be found on a lake trying to learn how to fish. I have been only somewhat successful in this endeavor (as you can see by the picture below). However, with the help of Ian, my dad, and my Kensington friend Clint, I am completely confident that by the end of the summer I will be a mediocre fishing woman.

This summer, much more so than in years past, fishing has been a major pastime for a number of the field crew when we are not learning the wonders of Echinacea. Overall I contribute the increase in fishing to two major factors; one living at Andes where we have access to a row boat on a lake full of fish, and, more importantly, actually having crew members that can tie fishing line on hooks (before last week this was not me). Below I have included just a few pictures of our fishing excursions. However, for the entire 112 fishing pictures (most thanks to Ian) see my piacasa web album at

Lake Isaac
Is a lake nearly completely on Andes property with a row boat that we have been given permission to take out for fishing. Isaac is a fairly small lake but it is quite beautiful and scenic.
The Lake has a large number of sunfish (or blue gill) crappies, and bass. Both Ian and Amy have caught some very respectable size bass.
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Everyone on the crew (except one) has been out on Isaac at least once. Even my dad, who visited last weekend, fished Isaac with me two times.
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Supplementing our food budget

One great thing about fishing is the ability to supplement our food budget. On a few occasions we have kept larger sunfish and crappies to clean and eat.

Hegg Lake 2006 versus 2007

I thought I would spend some time comparing the 2006 and 2007 measuring of the plants at Hegg Lake. The Hegg Lake common garden is located on Minnesota DNR land and is approximately a 7.5 mile drive from the main common garden. In May 2006 3,941 seedlings were planted at Hegg Lake after they were first germinated and grown in a green house at the Chicago Botanic Garden. To learn more about this large seedling growth experiment read this description.


Measuring plants:
In both years we counted the number of leaves and measured the longest leaf. However, this year we also recorded insects and any herbivory damage on the plants. The average tallest leaf of the living plants was 6.4 cm in 2006 and 13.7 cm in 2007.

“Can’t finds��? and mortality estimates between years:
When we are measuring plants and can’t find a plant we don’t assume the plant is dead. Instead the measurer records that the plant is a “can’t find��? and places a flag in the position he/she was searching. Later we have a different person come back and searches for the plant so that two pairs of eye look for every “can’t find��? plant. In 2006 we had approximately 21% of the plants were found by the second person who went back and searched for the “can’t find��? plants. Our overall estimate for mortality in the plants first year of growth was around 6% with 243 plants that were “can’t finds��? after two people searched for the plant.

This year we have just started having the second person go back and search for “can’t find��? plants. We have a total of 698 plants that were not found by the originally measurer. This puts the mortality estimate at 17.7% plants (cumulative) however I feel this percentage will drop significant after the second person rechecks the “can’t finds��?.

One interesting note is there were 30 plants found by the originally measurer this year that were not found by EITHER person who searched for the plant in 2006. Therefore, in 2006 there were really (at most) 213 plants that died making the currently mortality estimate for 2006 at 5%.