Finding (or Not Finding) Aphids – Aphid Addition/Exclusion Update 2022

Since 2011, Team Echinacea has been studying how the presence (or absence) of the specialist herbivore Aphis echinaceae has an impact on Echinacea fitness. This summer, Kennedy and I (Emma) have been tasked with running the project. Originally, 100 heads were included in the study. This summer, only 41 plants are still present, with 17 addition plants and 24 exclusion plants. At the beginning of the summer, Kennedy and I searched to see if we could find any aphids, regardless of whether the plants were a part of the addition or exclusion treatment. We found exactly none, the same as last year. After consulting with Stuart about the conundrum, we decided to introduce a new population of Aphid echinaeceae into ExPt1, where the project is located. Multiple times a week, Kennedy and I went into prairie remnants, carefully gathered the aphids, then brought them back and placed them onto the living addition plants. Below is a graph of the aphid population growth on these 17 plants, with the red line being the average.

Most of the plants have now received between 70 and 80 Aphid echinaeceae since the 20th of July, with most plants having at least a few living each time we visit the plant. On one plant we even found an ant! Overall, it will still take some work to establish a new population, but we seem to be off to a good start.


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