Let the Analysis Begin!

Happy Wednesday, readers! It’s hard to believe that this will be our last Wednesday here at the Garden, but it is—things are winding down. Well, sort of winding down. We still have a lot of work to do! For me and Jackie, we’ve finally gotten to start the data analysis (also known as the fun part).

But first, we had to do all of the x-raying! We mentioned it briefly in some other posts, but here’s what the results actually ended up looking like:

photo 2

We then had to look through the images and count which achenes were full, empty, or partially-full (shown in red, blue, and green, respectively). We use these x-rays to get a sense of seed-set, or how well the Echinacea heads were fertilized. All of the previous steps have been looking at achenes, which are actually the fruit of the flower. All the heads produce achenes, but only some of those achenes have seeds that will grow into more Echinacea. In this way, the x-raying can be considered the most important part; it’s measuring reproduction most directly. Also interesting to note: the x-raying protocol is very careful to minimize the x-ray exposure of achenes being studied. That way, any seeds produced are more likely to be viable, and still grow later!

With that out of the way, we’re on to the fun of analysis, which doesn’t actually look that fun (unless you like computers):

photo 1

Whoops, I accidentally got my finger in the shot.

We’ll be spending a lot of time manipulating our data in R (as shown) and feeding it into models. The idea is to test whether achene location on the head, plant isolation, and flowering timing relate to seed-set. Tune in on Friday for results!


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