Project Assistantship Third Check-in: Aster Graphical Model

In one of our most pristine tallgrass prairie habitats that remain in west central Minnesota, an accident was made in its management (not by Team Echinacea or members of The Echinacea Project). A Minnesota non-native Echinacea, Echinacea pallida, was seeded into the habitat. These non-native Echinacea flower at a similar time to our native Echinacea angustifolia and we suspected that they could cross-pollinate. To test this, an experimental cross was conducted where pollen from donors of both species E. angustifolia and E. pallida were applied to stigma of receptive Echinacea of both species (so we have four crosses: Ang x Ang, Ang x Pal, Pal x Pal, and Pal x Ang). These crosses produced some viable seed and the progeny were grown in an experimental garden. We monitored the progeny’s survivorship, size, and reproductive effort (once they began flowering in the 5th year). These data will allow us to answer questions about the fitness of hybrid Echinacea compared to non-hybrids.

I made an aster graphical model that I am going to use to test hypotheses about the fitness of hybrid Echinacea. The graphical model contains survivorship (represented as ld or “living during”), whether the plant flowered (Flowering), and a count of the number of heads produced by a flowering plant (HdCt). A noticeable feature of the graphical model is the absence of flowering in 2019, this was because none of the plants in the experiment flowered that year. In the previous year, the first plant flowered and it was the only plant to flower, interestingly it was a Pal x Pal cross.


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