First Day! – June 14th

Today was the first day of the field season. We met at the Hjelm house at 8:30 but quickly left for a tour of the largest prairie remnant that we will be working in, Staffanson Prairie Preserve. We got a lesson in the history of the landscape from Stuart. We learned about geologic features in western Minnesota that were formed by glaciers almost 10,000 years ago! We also learned about the role European settlement had on the size and composition of prairie communities. We had a good look at many of the earliest plants to flower at Staffanson. We also got to see how big of a difference a burn makes in the prairie since the west unit was burned this spring. As we were leaving Staffanson it began to rain and we had to cut our tour of the remnant prairies in Solemn Township short.

After lunch Stuart gave a talk about some of the work that has been done on the project since it started. He talked about the Echinacea angustifolia mating scene and how the different dimensions of reproduction affect plant fitness. Distance, timing and compatibility can all play a role in the reproductive success of Echinacea! Jennifer also gave a talk on her work with pollinators and Echinacea, we learned about how varying taxa of pollinator affects the quality and quantity of pollen that a plant will receive. Her talk gave us a lot of good information to build a foundation for the work that will be done this summer with pollinators!

We called it a day a little early because of the rainy weather and so we could do some reading and think about what we want our independent projects to be for the summer. Tomorrow looks like it will be a little bit nicer or at least it won’t rain so hopefully we will be able to visit a few remnants and get started measuring seedlings that are apart of the Q3 experiment!


A dragonfly I spotted at Staffanson trying to warm up early in the morning, hopefully it didn’t get too beaten up by the rain!


Stuart is giving his talk about the 3 dimensions of the Echinacea mating scene!



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