Project status update: Common garden experiment–1996 cohort

The oldest Echinacea plants in experimental plot 1 will turn 20 this year. They are part of the 1996 cohort, which was planted in a common garden experiment designed to study differences between remnant populations and assess life history traits as they grew. Stuart sampled about 650 seeds (achenes) from eight remnant populations in and near Solem Township, representing the range of modern prairie habitat from small patches along roadsides to a large nature preserve. In 1996, he transplanted seedlings on a 1m x 1m grid, randomly assigning the location of each individual.

Every year, members of Team Echinacea assess survival and measure plant growth and fitness traits including plant status (whether it is flowering or basal), plant height, leaf count, and number of flowering heads. We harvest all flowering heads in the fall and obtain their achene count and seed set in the lab.

Of the original 650 individuals, 304 were alive in 2015. This year, 136 individuals from the 1996 cohort were flowering with a total of 303 heads. At present, these heads are in the lab where they await processing to find their achene count and seed set.  We used 31 plants (45 flowering heads) from the 1996 cohort as maternal plants in crosses for the most recent heritability of fitness experiment (qGen3). We also used five plants from the 1996 cohort (8 heads total) as part of the pollen exclusion and addition experiment. We covered their heads with pollinator exclusion bags for the duration of the season.

Read more posts about this experiment.

Stuart passes out pollen.

Stuart passes out pollen to Gina and Ben for crosses between 1996 cohort plants in the qGen3 experiment

Start year: 1996

Location: Experimental plot 1

Overlaps with: phenology in experimental plots, qGen3, pollen addition/exclusion


  • See the exPt1 core dataset where yrPlanted == ‘1996’ for 1996 cohort fitness measurements



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