Sampling Sites

So, in an attempt to fit as many sampling needs as possible, here are the sites that we will be sampling for aphids, juvenile plants, and some tissue samples, along with the sampling strategies:
Large and Less Isolated
Nessman (Ness)
East Riley (Eri)
Steven’s Approach (Stevens)
Northwest of Landfill (NWLF)
East of Town Hall (ETH)

We will use a couple different sampling strategies for the different remnants in order to try and randomize them as much as possible. These should accomodate Daniel’s, Amy’s and a portion of Jennifer’s project. Note: All belt transects are 1/2 m unless otherwise noted.

Staffanson – Select 3 random locations in both the burned and unburned plots using randomly selected ULM coordinates, and find them using the Trimble GPS. Then, choose a random compass direction and run the belt transect roughly 10 m in that direction.

Landfill – Choose 3 random locations on the East Hill (Trimble again), choose a random direction, and do a 3-5 m belt transect in that direction. If more plants are needed, go a little further

KJ’s – Choose 3 random locations, choose a random direction, and do a 3-5 m belt transect. Go further if needed.

Nessman – Since this is a roadside remnant, choose 5 random points along the road edge, and extend the belt perpendicular from the road to the cornfield.

East Riley – choose 5 random points along the road edge, and extend the belt perpendicular from the road to the edge of the remnant

Steven’s Approach – Choose a bunch of random points along the road, and inspect to see if there are plants present. If not, go to the next point.

Northwest of Landfill – choose 5 random points along the road edge, and extend the belt perpendicular from the road to the edge of the remnant.

Randt – Choose a bunch of random points along the road, and inspect to see if there are plants present. If not, go to the next point.

East of Town Hall – Select random points used for seedling search, and look for plants there.

Remnants Being Searched

So, *drum roll please*
Here are the possible candidates for the remnants that I will be looking at this summer.
In no particular order, I will pick 7 out of:

NW of Landfill
East of Town Hall
Yellow Orchard Hill

Depending on what Amy needs for her seedling searches, I can adjust accordingly, but these sites should give a good cross-section of isolated prairie remnants and well populated ones. Tomorrow, we will spend another hour searching for spittlebugs in the common garden, and hopefully enough will be found for a sufficient sample size. Phenology has also started in the common garden, and we have 4 plants that are flowering so far, with hopefully more by tomorrow.

We went out to the Glacial Lakes reserve today for a hike, and it was incredibly beautiful. We took lunch and hiked all afternoon, seeing some flowering Echinacea, noticing a bumblebee on one of the flowering Echinacea, and stopping every 5 minutes to look at a new plant. We even did a few seedling searches! (Stuart has trained us well….)

Revised Plan

So, here is my revised project plan. I spent about 2 hours with Stuart today going over the procedure, and I think the randomization aspect and sampling aspect has been redesigned a bit better.
Please let me know what you think. A bit more revision is to come, but this gives the basic idea.

Today was a beautiful day on the prairie. Got to try out my new bike this morning, and rode to the farm in a half hour. That last hill is a killer though. This afternoon, I rode back along Unity Drive, and noticed some Brome grass that had its anthers sticking out. Mistook it for a new type of plant at first. Nice warm weather with a nice breeze, so wonderful bike riding on those gravel back roads. Pictures will come eventually!

Possible Aphid Proposal

So, here is my proposal for looking at aphid proportion and density in the different prairie remnants this summer, as well as the presence of spittlebugs. Please criticize and let me know what you think.


For the preliminary observations done to get an idea of the number of plants with aphids, I spent yesterday morning scanning the common garden for Aphids. I looked at rows 2, 3, 14, and 40, and wen through them up to the 20 meter mark. I found 3 plants with aphids and 5 with spittlebugs. For the younger plants, I scanned rows 51, 54, 55, and 56, and found 5 plants with spittlebugs and 3 with aphids. Given that I missed some, I would say that of the 270 plants looked at, roughly 2% had aphids.

Yesterday afternoon was also spent pressing plants, where I learned some of the finer points, such as ensuring that the flowers and leaves were well separated, how to fold some plants over, and to ensure that some leaves were turned over so that both sides of a leaf were captured. It is also very important to label clearly, and BEFORE you put the plant in the paper.

The little miss Runestone parade is today, and it is very likely that pictures of this event will be referenced or posted in later posts. (Depending on the varying levels of cuteness).

Also, here is the really cool paper on Spittlebugs, aphids and ants that I found:

Daniel R.

Hello from Kensington!

Hello! My name is Daniel Rath, a rising senior Biology major from Carleton College, Minnesota. I’ll be working with Stuart and the other incredible members of the Echinacea project all summer to find out the answers to some of the most interesting, fascinating and incredible questions about the prairie ever conceived.

Well, I might be exaggerating, but only a little.

I am 19 years old, born and raised in Dangriga, Belize, C.A., and ever since I worked in the Carleton Arboretum restoring prairie, I have had an intense fascination with the Midwest prairie ecosystem. I came to Kensington the day after Carleton’s graduation ceremonies, and so far I have been blown away by the beautiful wide open expanses, particularly Staffenson Prairie. I have been fascinated by the small prairie remnants that remain in scattered areas throughout the landscape, and am working on learning the names of some of the key species (leadplant, tall bluestem and short bluestem, brome, veiny pea, and many others).

The question that has most caught my interest is the interaction between aphids and ants, particularly as it has been recorded in the Common Garden. I would love to know more about this potential new species, such as: Are the Echinacea-specific? Do their depredations vary among inbred vs outbred vs plants within the same remnant? Are they able to persist without the ants? What exactly is the nature of the ant-aphid interaction? How abundant are they in the wild? Tons of questions, so hard to choose! It gets even more complicated as you consider the little structures built for the aphids by the ants, as some entomologists believe that the ants use spittlebug spittle to construct them! However, I think I will narrow it down to a question that lets me spend the largest amount of time outside in the prairie remnants and the common garden.

I am also looking forward to gaining more field skills, such as using a GPS, looking at satellite maps, and learning about sampling mechanisms such as line transects and random searches.

Kensington is a marvellous little town, and I really like the feel of it. While I have not recovered from my sleep debt incurred at Carleton, I intend to explore the surrounding landscape as soon as possible. However, I would like future Team Echinacea members to know that the K-Town bar offers 2$ burgers on Thursdays. Incredible deal!