Wyatt Mosiman

Echinacea Project 2024

I did my undergrad in journalism and environmental science at Northwestern University, graduating in 2023. I also did my master’s at Northwestern, and defended last Tuesday (June 4, 2024)! This summer I’ll be finishing up my revisions to get my degree at the end of August

Pronouns: She/her

Research Interests

My thesis focused on the heritability of fire-stimulated flowering in Echinacea, which I think is pretty neat. I enjoyed using our awesome experimental plots to look into how parent and offspring plants might be behaving similarly (or not!). And of course, fire is super neat. As time allows, I’d love to expand upon my thesis work to make it more robust, including looking into selection of phenotypes, phenotype expression of plants in remnants, comparing remnants, and more.


I’m from Chanhassen, MN, but have spent the last 5 school years in and around Chicago. I feel lucky to continue to spend my summers up in Minnesota, as I love the prairie and the lakes and the people. My favorite activity once I get home from work is cooking with friends, and I hope to do lots of that this summer. I’m also looking forward to fishing with folks on the crew, and hopefully taking home the catch and making a meal of it. Yum!

Me pondering an Echinacea (purpurea, shhh) after graduation at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Burn and Bust Industry

This weekend Team Echinacea had nothing short of an adventure. Expecting good burn conditions on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and maybe even Wednesday, we packed our bags and headed northwest from CBG. After the quintessential falafel stop in the Twin Cities, we arrived at Hjelm around 9pm. Before we could hit the hay, however, we had one important issue to resolve: the farmhouse didn’t have any running water. We’d picked up some jugs of drinking water along the way, but we decided that it might be nice if everyone also got a turn to flush the toilet. So without further ado, we went and collected water from the roadside in 5 gallon buckets to have around for filling the toilet tank. This operation looked totally normal and chill.

After eating breakfast and topping off the septic tank with pond water the next morning, we prepped for a burn at the hulze site. This involved filling water packs/buckets/tank, raking and mowing burn breaks, prepping radios, etc..

Once we finished our prep work, we returned to Hjelm and had a hearty chickpea meal. Yum! A classic! I like to add salt and pepper and paprika and olive oil and spinach and hot sauce to mine. This is also when our reinforcements arrived. This was a bigger burn relative to most of our sites, a whole 15 acres, so help was appreciated. Thank you Amy and Brad and Amy and Colleen! Jared briefed us on the mission, and we got to hear the frustrating tale about how we’ve been skunked at this unit two years in a row. Every time we’ve tried to burn it, it’s been called off last minute for one reason or another. Last year there was allegedly too much smoke from Canadian wildfires and we were told no go. Will this year be different? Third time’s the charm, right?

Wrong. Once again, after all of our prep work was complete and we were ready to light a test fire, Stuart called in the permit and was told to hold off. The county was concerned about gusts over 25 miles per hour, though that’s not what we were measuring at the site. We waited hopefully for over an hour for a call back giving us the go-ahead, and eventually gave in to the fact that there would be none. So we packed up and headed back to Hjelm. There’s still hope for burning this unit later in the spring, but needless to say we were slightly grumpy.

To raise our spirits, we took a walk around the Wagenius property to scout out areas to burn the next day and check up on places we had burned in the fall.

Abby, Blue, Jared, Stuart, and Gretel walk through the southeast corner that we burned in November. Hope you like galium! They were plentiful here (as was brome).

For dinner, Abby, Ian and I made Abby’s chili recipe (the secret ingredient is farro (and paprika) (and dark chocolate) (and love)) and Stuart and Gretel made their cornbread. Yum again! I mixed my cornbread and chili together with butter and hot sauce and honey and, upon Abby’s recommendation, apple cider vinegar, which is now an essential chili condiment in my book.

I do something cooking related while Ian stirs the pot.

Having full tummies and hearts, we went to bed with the knowledge that Jared and Stuart were excited about burn conditions tomorrow, and thus, so were we. But you know who wasn’t? The state of Minnesota. That’s right, we woke up bright and early to find that the DNR had placed burning restrictions on much of the western part of the state, including the counties we conduct our burns in. That means another day with no burns. And we thought Sunday would be perfect! ARG. This forced us to take a step back and consider our options. We didn’t have a ton of other stuff to do in the field, and the forecast for the next few days was getting more dicey. So, with great reluctance, we made the call to head home early. We put away burn equipment, packed our vehicles, and were on our way.

Stuart helpfully supervises as Abby caries a 40 pound water pack down a flight of rather unforgiving stairs to store until next time.

Not wanting to end our trip on a sour note, we stopped by Staffanson Prairie Preserve on our way out to see who was flowering.

We stopped in the Twin Cities for lunch, donuts, and to drop off Stuart’s truck at his parents’ place for them to have handy. For those of you keeping track at home, that means we have a 7ish hour journey to make in one vehicle that will be carrying 7 souls (one of whom is a dog). This made for a tight squeeze, but we made it work.

I tried to take a selfie to capture the coziness of the moment, but failed. Ian and I are prominent in the front, and you can spot Blue and Stuart in the back. Behind me are also Gretel and Abby, and Jared is in the passenger seat next to me

By midnight, we’d all made it back to our homes safe and sound. While we didn’t accomplish what we set out to do on this trip, perhaps, as Ian suggested, the real burns were the friends we made along the way.

Spring sprungs again at CBG

Today marks the first day since that frighteningly warm week in February when Abby and I have eaten our lunch outside. We celebrated this landmark day with a meander around some other parts of the garden, where blooms were abound.

A pollinator (I don’t know anything about bugs) visits a magnolia in bloom
The pollinators aren’t the only ones getting all up in the magnolia’s business.

“Sweet and springy and full of hope and longing and wistful and… I’ll leave it at that,” Abby said, when asked to describe how she interpreted the flower’s aroma.

If you take a look below the magnolia in that photo, you’ll see a bunch of green stuff on the ground. Here’s a pic of it up close:

I also don’t know who these are. But aren’t they neat? They look so kind. Each is about the size of a fingernail.

Hopefully this spring is like a garage door spring and not a clicky pen spring. I’m ready for it to hit hard.

Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference 2024

Registration is now open for MEEC! This conference, organized and directed entirely by students, highlights the work of undergraduate and graduate students in poster or oral format.

Many, many Team Echinacea members have presented their research at MEEC in the past (just search MEEC here on the flog). In fact, I presented a poster on aphids with Allie Radin in 2022! Will I be submitting an abstract this year? Only time will tell. But you should!


  • Location: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
  • Abstracts due: 15 March, 2024
  • Conference begins: 6 April, 2024
  • Note: The total solar eclipse is on April 8th, not too far away from the conference…

wm thesis update 2024-02-05

Function function what’s your function?

You know, I can’t remember if I’ve posted any updates or info on my thesis to the flog before. So, I’ll do a more in depth update at some point in the near future explaining the background of the project, what work has gone on, etc. For now, I just want to make more of a celebratory post for making my first ever semi-complex function in R!

For the mathematical work of my thesis, I have multiple different datasets, measures of reproductive effort, and ways of quantifying a phenotype related to fire-stimulated flowering. Different combinations of these variables can significantly change what the end plots looks like. Again, a more in depth explanation is to come, for now, just function.

I developed a function where you can input these arguments as variables and it spits out several plots, the last of which is a parent-offspring regression for both my shared and distinct cohorts. (Did I mention there’s more context to come? This is in media res storytelling.) Check it out:

simplest metrics

most complex metrics

remEa 2023 making its way through ACE!

Most of the hundreds (or thousands!) of Echinacea heads we harvest every year are from our common garden experimental plots. But not all of them! We also harvest heads from local prairie remnants to learn about isolated natural Echinacea populations of different sizes. This year, we harvested 125 heads from the remnants, and they’ve begun their journey through our ACE process at CBG!

Next step next time?

The remnant heads are almost all through the first batch in our process, cleaning. By the end of the ACE process, we’ll be able to quantify multiple components of fitness, such as achene count and seed set, for each individual. But for now, one thing at a time!

Morris Area Schools Science Expo

This week, Abby and I designed a poster, packed our bags, and headed to Minnesota to attend a science expo at Morris Area High School. The event was organized by Britney House (Team Echinacea RET 2022) and provided students of all grade levels an opportunity to explore different career paths and opportunities in science. There were folks with fancy robots and all the newest engineering tech in attendance, but we weren’t the only environmental sciencey group there; we were happy to see the MN DNR, USDA NRCS, and others in attendance.

Abby shows off our poster before the expo begins.

Our goals at the event were to inform people of our work in the area, get kids interested in conservation, and advertise our RET and RAHSS opportunities to local high school students and teachers. We got the opportunity to talk to lots of different people, from kids to community members to other exhibitors!

Wyatt sows seeds of conservation-mindedness in the youth. Future Echinacea Project members?

Many thanks to Britney and the rest of the crew at Morris for organizing such a great experience for students, the community, and orgs like us alike. After the event, we revisited some of our favorite spots around town before heading home the next morning. The jury has concluded that the prairie is just as pretty covered in a layer of snow, even if there’s not that much.

Until next time, quad-county area.

2023 Update: Aphid addition and exclusion

The aphid addition and exclusion experiment was started in 2011 by Katherine Muller. The original experiment included 100 plants selected from exPt01 which were each assigned to have aphids either added or excluded through multiple years. The intention is to assess the impact of the specialist herbivore Aphis echinaceae on Echinacea fitness.

Last summer (2022), team members Emma Reineke and Kennedy Porter were in charge of the experiment and did not find any aphids in exPt01, so they introduced a new population of Aphid echinaeceae into ExPt1. Learn more in the 2022 summer aphid update. During summer 2023, we did not do any fieldwork for this experiment and we didn’t see any aphids while measuring exPt01.

Aphids spotted by Abby VanKempen in 2016
  • Start year: 2011
  • Location: exPt01
  • Overlaps with: Phenology and fitness in P1
  • Data collected: 
    • none in 2023
  • Samples collected: NA
  • Products:
    • Andy Hoyt’s poster presented at the Fall 2018 Research Symposium at Carleton College
    • 2016 paper by Katherine Muller and Stuart on aphids and foliar herbivory damage on Echinacea
    • 2015 paper by Ruth Shaw and Stuart on fitness and demographic consequences of aphid loads

You can read more about the aphid addition and exclusion experiment, as well as links to prior flog entries mentioning the experiment, on the background page for this experiment.

2023 Update: Echinacea hybrids (exPt 6,7,9) and Echinacea pallida flowering phenology

Harrison Aakre (RET 2023) decapitates E. Pallida with grim satisfaction

Echinacea pallida flowering: 

Location: Hegg Lake WMA. Start year: 2011. Echinacea pallida is a species of Echinacea that is not native to Minnesota. It was mistakenly introduced to our study area during a restoration of Hegg Lake WMA. Since 2011, Team Echinacea has visited the pallida restoration, taken flowering phenology, and collected demography on the non-native plant. We have decapitated all flowering E. pallida each year to avoid cross-pollination with the local Echinacea angustifolia. Each year, we record the number of heads on each plant and the number of rosettes, collect precise GPS points for each individual, and cut off all the heads before they produce fruits.

This year, we cut E. pallida heads on June 22nd. We installed pollinator exclusion bags on select heads of 10 plants rather than immediately cutting them as a part of our quantity and quality of Echinacea pollen and nectar experiment. Overall, we found and shot 73 flowering E. pallida plants, and 193 heads in total, averaging 2.6 heads per plant. These non-native plants were hearty with an average rosette count of 6 rosettes and an individual with a maximum of 20 rosettes! We only did surv on plants with new tags this year, a total of 4. We did not take phenology data on E. pallida this year.

You can find more information about E. pallida flowering phenology and previous flog posts on the background page for the experiment.


Location: near exPt8. Start year: Crossing in 2011, planting in 2012. Experimental plot 6 was the first E. angustifolia x E. pallida hybrid plot planted by Team Echinacea. A total of 66 Echinacea hybrids were originally planted. All individuals have E. angustifolia dams and E. pallida sires. In 2023, we visited 23 positions and found 17 living plants. This year, 3 plants flowered in this plot; this is the first year any plants have flowered in p6! These were allowed to reach day one or two of flowering in order to assess their pollen color before we decapitated them.

Flowering plant in exPt06! Note the paler pollen color compared to the typical E. Angustifolia

You can find more information about experimental plot 6 and previous flog posts about it on the background page for the experiment.


Location: Hegg Lake WMA. Start year: Crossing in 2012, planting in 2013. Experimental plot 7 is the second E. pallida E. angustifolia plot. It contains conspecific crosses of each species as well as reciprocal hybrids, totaling 294 individuals. This summer, we visited 150 positions, and of these plants, we found evidence of 121 living plants. We did not use pollinator exclusion bags in exPt07 this year. There were 19 flowering plants this year; from these we harvested 32 heads. We have not yet used the pedigree data to see what number of these plants are hybrids or not.

You can find more information about experimental plot 7 and previous flog posts about it on the background page for the experiment.


Location: Hegg Lake WMA. Start year: 2014. Experimental plot 9 is a hybrid plot, but, unlike the other two hybrid plots, we do not have a perfect pedigree of the plants. That is because the E. angustifolia and E. pallida maternal plants used to generate seedlings for exPt9 were open-pollinated. We need to do paternity analysis to find the true hybrid nature of these crosses (assuming there are any hybrids). We did not use pollinator exclusion bags in exPt09 this year. There were originally 745 seedlings planted in exPt9. We searched at 292 positions and found evidence of 238 living plants in 2023. Of these individuals, 30 were flowering. We harvested 39 heads from this plot!

You can find out more information about experimental plot 9 and flog posts mentioning the experiment on the background page for the experiment.

Overlaps with: demographic census in remnants

Data collected for exp679: For all three plots, we collected flowering status, rosette count, leaf length, head count and head height. All measuring data can be found in the cgdata repository (~/cgdata/summer2023/measureGood). Measuring data should be uploaded to SQL database eventually, but it is not currently there for 2023. For experimental plots 7 and 9, we also took phenology data starting on July 7th and ending on July 12th, which we scaled back from previous years. This data can be found in the cgdata repository (~cgdata/summer2023/p79phenology).

Data collected for E. pallida demography: Demography data, head counts, rosette counts, GPS points shot for each E. pallida with a new tag. Find demo and surv records as well as GPS points in demap.

2023 Update: Quantity and quality of Echinacea pollen and nectar

We’re interested in investigating what resources are available to Echinacea visitors and learning more about the pollen and nectar Echinacea produces. We hope to learn if the nutritional resources available differ before and after burns. In 2022, Britney House developed methods for collecting nectar from Echinacea using microcapillary tubes. Read more about her methods here.

During the summer of 2023, the team collected pollen and nectar samples from Echinacea angustifolia at 19 sites in and around Solem Township, MN (plants at Hegg Lake were Echinacea pallida). We searched for and shot the ~20 plants (or, if few were available, as many as we could find) at each site that were closest to a random point. We then selected ten of those plants to bag up to three of their heads with pollinator exclusion bags. Throughout the duration of their flowering, we collected pollen from all bagged plants and nectar from five of them per site.

Stuart collects nectar from an Echinacea head

Midway through the experiment (mid-July), we removed bags from some of the pollen only plants to adjust our sample size to only the five pollen/nectar plants plus two backups per site. We removed bags from pollen/nectar plants and backup plants when they were done flowering, we’d collected a cumulative 50 mm of nectar from them, or we had received less than 15 mm of nectar from the plant in the last three visits (the latter was more of a guideline than a rule, used to save time by eliminating plants that were unlikely to provide us with enough nectar for analysis). At the Hegg pallida restoration, any heads that were not originally bagged were decapitated, and all heads were decapitated upon the final removal of their bags.

Following some experimentation, we conducted nectar collection only in the afternoons, while pollen collection could be done any time of day. In total, we collected 856 vials of pollen and 580 vials of nectar from 104 plants. These were given to Rahul Roy and Margaret Medini at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, who will be doing data analysis.

Data entry for collection datasheets is complete, and verified csvs for each site can be found at: Dropbox/teamEchinacea2023/z.pollenNectarDataEntry/coreVerified. Scans can be found at: Dropbox/teamEchinacea2023/z.pollenNectarDataEntry/scans.

  • Start year: 2023
  • Location: Various prairie remnants and one restoration (Hegg Pallida) around Solem Township, MN
  • Overlaps with: bbFood, nectar experiment
  • Data collected: 
    • plant IDs (tag), location, flowering status, assessments for selection for study
      • Dropbox/teamEchinacea2023/z.pollenNectarDataEntry/scans/metaScans
    • flowering day, male floret count, pollen from N anthers in tube, pollen tube ID, tt color, nectar tube ID, quantity of nectar (mm) per floret
      • Dropbox/teamEchinacea2023/z.pollenNectarDataEntry/scans/coreScans
      • Dropbox/teamEchinacea2023/z.pollenNectarDataEntry/coreVerified
      • Dropbox/teamEchinacea2023/z.pollenNectarDataEntry/summaryData
  • Specimens collected: 
    • 856 pollen tubes (at St. Kate’s)
    • 580 nectar tubes (at St. Kate’s)
  • Team members involved with this project: Summer team 2023, Rahul Roy (St. Kate’s) , Margaret Medini (St. Kate’s)
  • Products: pending
  • Funding: ENRTF