Common garden experiment–1996 cohort

An aerial view of experimental plot 1, home to many of our common garden experiments


The first cohort of Echinacea in the common garden experiment of experimental plot 1 was planted in 1996. This study investigates fitness and life-history traits of plants growing in a uniform and realistic environment. We want to know how much fitness differs among populations of origin.

In 1995, Stuart randomly sampled achenes from eight remnant Echinacea populations in our study area (Solem Township), including both a large population in a nature preserve and smaller populations along roadsides. In spring 1996, he planted the seeds (achenes) (about 650 total) in plugs. That summer, he transplanted them to experimental plot 1, a restored prairie environment that is within 6.5 km of the achenes’ populations of origin. The plants were experimentally randomized and planted in a 1 m x 1 m grid.

Every year, we assess plant survival and fitness characteristics including plant growth measurements (such as plant height, leaf count, and leaf length) and status (basal or flowering). If the plant is flowering, we harvest the head in the fall and determine its achene count and seed set in the lab.

Start year: 1996

Location: experimental plot 1

Dataset: See exPt1 core dataset where yrPlanted = ‘1996’ for 1996 cohort fitness measures.


  • Waananen, A., G. Kiefer, J. L. Ison, and S. Wagenius. 2018. Mating opportunity increases with synchrony of flowering among years more than synchrony within years in a nonmasting perennial. The American Naturalist 192: 379-388. PDF | Appendix | online version
  • Ison, J.L., and S. Wagenius. 2014. Both flowering time and spatial isolation affect reproduction in Echinacea angustifolia. Journal of Ecology 102: 920–929. PDF | Supplemental Material | Archived Data
  • Ruth G. Shaw, Charles J. Geyer, Stuart Wagenius, Helen H. Hangelbroek, and Julie R. Etterson. 2008. Unifying life-history analyses for inference of fitness and population growth. American Naturalist 172: E35 – E47. Abstract | PDF | Supplemental Material
  • Geyer, C.J., S. Wagenius, and R.G. Shaw. 2007. Aster models for life history analysis. Biometrika 94: 415-426. PDF |Supplemental Material

Overlaps with: phenology in p1

Link to flog posts: Read updates and annual reports about this common garden experiment on our flog (field blog) as written by members of Team Echinacea.