We have finished two weeks of the summer field season and I feel like we haven’t settled into a routine because we have been doing something new and different each day. It’s exciting.

Here’s a recap of accomplishments this past week…

Last week we finished searching for plants in the recruitment experiment. One plant (of ~1000 still alive) is flowering this year; it’s the first plant in the experiment to flower! The plant germinated in spring 2001.

Our high tech endeavors are underway and we have computer infrastructure to support them. Josh has networked the computers, hard drives, and printer. After some anxiety-inducing modifications to the video camera power supplies, we started taking video of pollinators & other visitors of Echinacea heads. Andy previewed a video this morning and it looks great! We still need to get more reliable power sources, but video cameras sure beat sitting on a bucket.

Colin has developed a camera rig to take shots of Echinacea heads in the common garden. We will be able to quantify many aspects of radial symmetry in the heads with the resulting digital images.

We assessed herbivory of ray florets in the common garden. We also looked at damage to disc florets. Jameson began to classify types of damage, but there weren’t that many heads with damage to the disk florets.

The KAP team (Julie, Rachel, and Josh) has made progress. Wind conditions have kept the kites on the ground most days, but they are making ground markers and have prepared the camera and rig. I flew the Sutton FlowForm 16 today in 12-16 mph surface winds at the park in Hoffman. Wow, it can pull. Yesterday, Gretel & I flew the G-Kites Dopero in somewhat variable winds. It was nervewracking.

The Bee team (Amy, Ian, Jameson, & Gretel) has abandoned my (bad) idea of watching bees through binoculars in favor of their much better idea. They are marking Agapostemon virescens individuals with acrylic paint and watching them when they are on the heads. They marked two bees on Friday and saw one on Saturday. Cool. They also have a slick form for entering observations.

We all have been making systematic observations of flowering phenology and style persistence of all plants in the common garden and along a transect at Staffanson Prairie Preserve.

In case anyone was wondering about the ostensibly narcissistic streak in recent posts, I _asked_ everyone on the team to post a profile with a photo.

Good work team Echinacea! We are making great progress in our quest to gain greater understanding of the ecology and evolution of plants and insects in fragmented prairie habitat.


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