First Flog Post! My Research About Prairie Fires and Echinacea Reproductive Success.

Hey Flog!

My name is Sam Hamilton, and I am a Northwestern senior doing research in the Echinacea Project lab this quarter. My project specifically seeks to understand the relationship between prairie fires and reproductive success of flowering plants using our model organism A. Echinacea. This is an important relationship to understand because, while historically fires were an integral part of the prairie life cycle, today’s isolated prairie remnants are often never burned. This could have a large impact on the success of shorter plants that rely on the extra sunlight and nutrients that a burn year supplies to flower and germinate. This quarter, I will be collecting the data from seed heads collected this year and analyzing it along with data collected in previous years to draw my conclusions.

I am also looking at the reproductive success of Echinacea flowers collected from the bottom, middle, and top of each head. In Echinacea, flowers mature first at the bottom and slowly develop towards the top over time. This allows us us to deduce when a plant was pollinated best during the season. I’ve been hard at work the past month cleaning seed heads and separating their achenes into top, middle, and bottom sections for later analysis. It’s been a lot of work, but the great company has kept it fun!

Until next time!



Myself with Susie, Char, Aldo, and Scott. (Left to Right)


One month of cleaned and organized achenes.


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