Asteraceae Breeding Systems: Data Analysis!

Hi all!
I’ve been back at Grinnell for about a month now, and so far my semester’s off to a great start! Very busy, but not busy enough to prevent me from finishing up my data analysis.

It looks like Echinacea purpurea‘s breeding system is similar to Echinacea angustifolia‘s. Styles that receive compatible pollen shrivel up within a few days, whereas styles that don’t persist longer, often for more than a week. In addition, E. purpurea is self-incompatible. (This means that an individual plant can’t pollinate itself, it needs pollen from another plant of the same species.)

To complicate things a little:
Not all of the flower heads I was studying had finished flowering by the time I left Minnesota, so I do not have much data on the top several rows of styles on many of them. Since styles in higher-up rows persist somewhat shorter than in lower rows, I cannot be sure that the trends I saw in my data hold for the top rows of all flower heads.
Also, some of the statistical tests I ran showed that style persistence in the self-pollination treatment differs significantly from the control treatment, while others do not. I’m not sure why that would be.

Here are my csv file and my analysis in R:

If anyone has any suggestions for improvement or other things I could look at with this data, please let me know!

And I posted much of my data analysis on H. helianthoides already, but here are the “final” versions. (But, again, I’m open to suggestions for further improvement!)

Some C. palmata and H. helianthoides Results

H. helianthoides appears to be self-incompatible. Here’s the data I collected:
I’ve also started my data analysis in R. It’s not done yet, but here’s what I have so far:
Data Analysis.txt
Basically, styles persist significantly longer when self-pollinated or not pollinated than when cross-pollinated. However, in the top rows of florets on each flower head, style persistence does not differ as much between the treatments (because all the styles in these rows shrivel rather quickly). Therefore, when using style persistence to study other aspects of this species’ breeding system (ex. pollinator efficiency, compatibility of specific individuals), one should use the bottom several rows of florets. In these rows, cross-pollinated styles always shrivel within three days of pollen application, whereas styles that do not receive compatible pollen never shrivel so quickly.

As I mentioned before, I was unable to collect much quantitative data about C. palmata style persistence. But I did notice some things that might be helpful to anyone interested in studying this species further. The following document gives a brief summary:
C. palmata Summary.doc

Update: End of July and Beginning of August

During the last week of July, in addition to working on our independent projects, we spent lots of time measuring in the Common Garden. It’s kind-of like a yearly check-up for all the Echinacea plants there: we count their leaves and rosettes and heads, measure their stems and longest leaves, and check them for bugs or other damage.
However, this past Monday we were forced to take a break from measuring due to a huge storm! The wind knocked down lots of trees. One landed right on the Hjelm house roof! Luckily there wasn’t much damage, and everyone is safe and sound.
Tuesday was also eventful, but in a different way: It was Callin’s last day with Team Echinacea before heading back to New Mexico to teach for another year. Good luck Callin! We miss you!
Later in the week, we finished measuring in the Common Garden and started demography. Demography is when we visit all the remnants in the Echinacea Project’s study area to locate and collect data about flowering plants. It’s been fun to visit some of the sites I hadn’t been to before, and to see how the different land-use history of each has affected the plants that grow there.
Then on Friday we went to Staffanson Prairie Preserve to check on the seedlings we planted there earlier this summer. It looks like mortality was pretty high, but we only finished searching about a third of the planted area, so maybe the seedlings are doing better in the rest of the plot. I guess we’ll find out next week!

Aster Style Persistence Update

My days of research at the landfill are coming to an end! I’ll be doing the last of my crosses there tomorrow and observing the results on Monday.
For the Coreopsis, I didn’t end up with much data about style persistence. Each head has about four rows of styles and dries up soon after it finishes flowering. Since I’ve only been visiting the landfill every three days, I didn’t get a chance to see what happened to most of the styles I pollinated before all the florets just turned black and fell off.
The good news is, I will be able to collected many of the flower heads I pollinated, so someone can assess their seed sets in the fall. (I was worried that when the florets fell off, they might have taken the seeds with them, but Stuart reassured me that the seeds are still there!)
I also have lots of data about Heliopsis style persistence. I’ll upload it here once I have the data in from my last few pollen crosses.

Another Busy Week!

This past week a lot more Echinacea started flowering, which meant we had plenty to do. We located all the Echinacea plants in the Common Garden that will flower this year. There were so many! They seemed to be particularly abundant in the 99 garden.
We also completed some more aphid surveys for Katherine’s project, continued work on the New Media Initiative, and set insect traps for Greg’s project. I really enjoyed taking a quick peek at some of the insects that Greg’s traps caught. I don’t have tons of experience with insects, so I don’t know what genus any of them are yet, but some of them looked pretty nifty. I’m looking forward to finding out more about them.
My own independent project is coming along as well. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time this week working at the dump! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the prairie remnants we’re studying, I should clarify that I’m not actually working in a garbage heap. There are some little hills that haven’t been used for agriculture because they are within the landfill’s property, but they’re not really close to all the trash either. As a result, they are covered in beautiful native prairie species! (And when the wind’s coming from the right direction, it doesn’t even smell bad!) Two of the species I’m studying grow there, Coreopsis palmata
and Heliopsis helianthoides.
I’ve started doing pollen crosses, with mixed results. On the Heliopsis, it looks like styles shrivel after receiving outcross pollen (suggesting they have been successfully fertilized), but not after receiving self pollen. I had a harder time seeing what happened to the styles on the Coreopsis I crossed because when I went back to check on them two days later, some of the flower heads had started falling apart. (As Amber Rae put it, “The Coreopsis are losing their heads!”) Stuart says that this is unusual though, so hopefully the heads I use for crosses this coming week won’t fall apart and I’ll be able to get some clearer results.

Last Week’s Adventures

Team Echinacea got a lot done this past week. On Monday we finished seedling searches, and on Wednesday we finished recruitment surveys. We’ve also made a lot of progress with the New Media Initiative: We now have a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
Then on Thursday, we started stipa searches. We looked in the Common Garden experimental plot for stipa that were planted as seed in the past two years. This means we were looking through bunches of grass to find this one specific kind of grass, which posed quite a challenge. As Stuart put it, it’s like looking for a needle in a needlestack. But we persevered! We found quite a few stipa plants, and will continue searching this week.
We also began aphid searching, as Katherine mentioned. I was glad that I didn’t find too many aphid infestations on our lovely Echinacea plants. It was a very satisfying way to end the work week.
Over the weekend, we had a 4th of July potluck-picnic celebration at Elk Lake. The food was all so delicious! And a construction team directed by Per made a formidable sandcastle fortress. Below are some pictures that Maria took. Happy (belated) 4th everyone!


Project Proposal Revised: Asteraceae Breeding Systems

Today Josh, Gretel, Nicholas, and I found lots of E. purpurea (eastern purple coneflower), plenty for me to study as part of my independent project! We did not find much E. pallida (pale purple coneflower) though, so I unfortunately won’t get to study that species this summer.

Here’s an updated version of my project proposal for studying the breeding systems of E. purpurea, H. helianthoides, and C. palmata:


Project Proposal Draft: Style Persistence and Self-Incompatibility

My independent project will be about the breeding systems of three plant species: H. helianthoides, C. palmata, and E. pallida. I will do pollen crosses to see whether the styles of these species’ florets shrivel when successfully pollinated (the way styles do in E. angustifolia florets). I will also try to determine whether these species are self-incompatible. Here’s a draft of my proposal:

Project Proposal Draft.doc

New Media Initiative: The Flog

Hi everyone!
Another aspect of the New Media Initiative for Summer 2011 involves thinking about how the Flog fits in with the other forms of media we’ll be using (Facebook, Twitter, the website), and whether there are changes that would make the Flog more useful to readers. Here is our proposal (Written by Maria, Greg, and I):

New Media Initiative – Flog.doc

*We would like to give credit to Nicholas for some of the formatting and headings, which we copied 🙂