My Last Day

Today was my last day of work with the Echinacea Project. We spent all of it doing total demo at Landfill and it was great! We had beautiful weather and many flowering individuals to investigate. In the morning the manager of the landfill came and talked with Stuart for a bit about the project and the remnants at the landfill. At lunch I gave the group a little presentation on my project for the summer. After another afternoon of total demo the Andes crew went into Alexandria for a night of wings.

Stuart pointing out where Echinacea are at Landfill for total demo.

Tracie, Anna, and Kristen doing total demo at Landfill.

My project this summer had several aspects to it. In the first part, I was curious to look into the plant community diversity between various types of land based on their land use history. At Hegg Lake Waterfowl Production Area there are remnants, restorations, and abandoned agricultural fields. I conducted vegetative analysis on several areas with these land use histories and I will be analyzing that data in the next couple weeks. Along with vegetative analysis, I also collected data on flowering resources between each type of land as a measure of pollinator habitat quality. Another aspect of my project was to build a list of species whose populations were large enough to collect seed from without heavily damaging the population. I built this list and gave it to the local DNR for their use. Along with the seed collection list, I am currently putting together a species list for all known species at Hegg Lake to provide for the DNR.

I learned a ton this summer and I am so happy to have had this amazing opportunity to participate in ecological science. There is so much fantastic research and good science coming out of the Echinacea Project. Thanks for everything!


Tracie’s B-Day

Today was Tracie’s birthday! After a morning of individual projects due to rain, Gretel brought out a beautiful cake at lunch that was decorated in flowering heads of anything that was currently in bloom.

Tracie’s Birthday!

We also realized that today was the last day of having a full ten people together at the project because Anna won’t be here for the next two days and Gretel and Ashley leave for the summer this weekend. Picture time!

Team Echinacea 2017

After lunch the weather was still very wet and rainy, so we took the afternoon off. In the evening, the Andes Crew went out to a restaurant called Pike and Pint to continue the birthday celebration. When we returned home there was a lot of bustle in the kitchen to make a massive cinnamon roll cake!

Demo Day!

In the morning everyone split up and did separate projects. Tracie and I worked on aphid addition and exclusion. Alex did phenology. Ashley and Anna did demography at Railroad Crossing. Leah and Kristen went to Staffanson. Eventually, everyone came back and we all worked on putting in staples in experimental plot 1 to mark plants that haven’t been found in the last three years. While doing that, Alex found this awesome Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia).

Argipe aurantia in P1

After lunch, everyone went back to P1 for an hour of placing staples. Then Leah and Tracie went out to work on their plant community analysis and Ashely, Will, Kristen, and I went to do demography at Railroad Crossing again. We finished staking all of the plants known to have flowered in the past and then had time to flag all of the new flowering plants. We just need to GPS the new flowering plants before we are done at Railroad Crossing.

Happy Monday!

Kristen, Ashley, and Will doing total demography

Saturday Funday!

Saturday!!!! Woohoo!!!

The Andes crew took a break with many of us going in to Alexandria to do laundry, do grocery shopping, and drink coffee. I spent my late morning and afternoon out at Hegg Lake looking for candidates for seed collection. There were many flowers that were blooming, including the Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera).

Liatris aspera in full bloom with a monarch.

A new flowering individual for me was the Prairie Cord Grass (Spartina Pectinata).

Spartina pectinata blooming.

Along with pretty plants, I had the opportunity to watch a Northern Harrier hunt and successfully catch dinner. There was also a pelican checking out a small pond.

A pelican on a pond at Hegg Lake.

Sunday at Home

I went home to see my parents this weekend in Northfield, MN, and had a wonderful time! This morning my mom and I biked around the St. Olaf College Natural Lands to see prairie flowers in bloom. When we got home we had a big breakfast of blueberry pancakes with some family friends. Then we spent the day working in the garden weeding and picking ripe veggies. Yum!

The St. Olaf College Natural Lands in full bloom.

Plant Community Analysis

This summer each of us are choosing a project to work on alongside the long-term Echinacea Project research. I am interested in plant communities and the interactions that occur within themselves and with other communities. The following is my proposal for a project investigating the plant communities at Hegg Lake Wildlife Management Area near Kensington, MN:



Hegg Lake with Echinacea

Hot, Hot, Hot

It’s phenology Monday!!!! Everyone headed out to different remnants and experimental plots to collected data on flowering Echinacea. Lea, Ashley, and I took care of experimental plot 2 at Hegg Lake.

Lea phenologizing P2

In the afternoon it was hot! We measured basal Echinacea plants in experimental plot 1, then we split up into different projects. Anna and I worked on the group aphid project by excluding and adding Echinacea-specific aphids to various plants. Ashley and Gretel pollinated and painted heads for Ashley’s project. Tracie, Will, and Stuart worked on data organization.

Tracie, Will, and Stuart mull over data.

Just before we finished for the day a large thunderstorm appeared and moved in. It made for quite a beautiful sight on our drive home!

Thunderstorms over Solem Township

Happy Monday!


Orchid Trip!

Gretel has a fantastic research project where she studies the resilience of Western Prairie Fringed Orchid, a federally endangered wet-prairie species.

Western Prairie Fringed Orchid

We got up early in the morning to drive to the site and there were clearly different levels of excitement. The group in the truck had a normal attitude for 6 in the morning…

The truck crew ready to leave.

…but the crew from Andes was ready to partay!

The Andes Crew is even more ready.

When we got to the orchid site, the weather was cold and looked like rain might threaten our day. We went out to the first plots and learned how to identify orchids, count the flowers, and GPS-mark their location. Then we split up into two groups and systematically went through the orchid plots.

Stuart and Anna searching for orchids

We came across a ton of orchids! Anna was enthusiastic in her finding.

Anna found an orchid!

Then we marked each orchid with a flag so they can easily be found in the fall when fruit count surveys are done.

We marked each orchid with a flag with an identifying number.

Besides seeing hundreds of orchids, we also saw many thousands of black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia hirta) and flowering sedges.

Rudbeckia hirta in full bloom.

A flowering sedge.

More flowering sedges!

There was also a beautiful ant hill.

Alex and a massive ant hill.

The wet prairie of Pembina.

An orchid in it’s natural habitat.

One of the biggest orchids we found.

Until next time!


Quiet Saturday for the Team

It’s fair to say that the portion of the team staying at Andes Hill Ski condo enjoys slow mornings and quiet time. Tracie, Lea, Alex, and I all went into Alexandria to get groceries, work on project organization, and do laundry. Ashley enjoyed a peaceful day at the condo finishing up a paper for a study abroad trip she took earlier in the summer.

I took part of my afternoon and went for a hike at Carlos Lake State Park just north of Alexandria. The park is located on Carlos Lake and has both old-growth hardwood forest and restored prairie.

Lake Carlos State Park

In the evening, I drove to Starbuck to play with the Morris Community Band in a parade.

Starbuck, MN 4th of July Parade

Then Ashley, Lea, Alex, Tracie, and I met up in Alexandria to try out Copper Trail Brewery.

Copper Trail Brewery

Happy 4th of July weekend!


Heads on Heads on Heads on….

I’d like to introduce everyone following the Flog to Blue, Gretel and Stuart’s wonderful puppy of less than five months.

In the morning we split up into two groups. One went to Staffanson to conduct transect phenology and the other group went to plot 2 at Hegg Lake to conduct phenology.

At Hegg Lake there were hundreds and hundreds of Echinacea heads, including one of the first blooming plants of the summer!

While double checking twist ties on heads (used to differentiate heads on one plant), Gretel and I found a bumble bee sleeping in a morning glory. How cute!

On our way back to Hjelm House for lunch, we stopped at a hillside to see Wood Lily (Lilium philadelphicum) blooming in a remnant at Hegg Lake.

We also saw blooming Locoweed!

After lunch, we went out and searched for small, nonflowering Echinacea in plot 8. Tracie was definitely enjoying herself, but Alex was a little harder to read…

On our way home, large storm clouds were moving in on use with lightening and threatening thunder.

Hoping for clear weather tomorrow!