Riley Thoen

Echinacea Project 2020

Biology Honors, Gustavus Adolphus College ’19

Research Interests

Anthropogenic habitat fragmentation has contributed to severe biodiversity loss worldwide and is expected to have lasting negative impacts on remnant communities in the coming years. One great consequence of fragmentation is the loss of genetic diversity and adaptive potential within individual remnant populations. Many studies have demonstrated the loss of neutral genetic diversity within remnant plant populations and linked this phenomenon to reduced population fitness. However, few studies have been designed to understand how remnant plant populations with varying sizes and degrees of isolation are differentially affected by climate change and how neutral and quantitative genetic variation may predict population persistence in a changing environment. Thus, it is my goal to understand the additive effects of habitat fragmentation and climate change for the persistence of remnant plant populations.


I grew up in Bloomington, MN, and went to college in Saint Peter, MN, where I learned to appreciate the biodiversity of the Midwest. I really enjoy being outdoors with no people around, and I am really looking forward to getting out of the big city (Chicago) and into the field in West Central MN again. Some of my other hobbies include: playing board games, playing video games, engaging in scientific discussions, participating in sports, reading (when I feel like it), and watching shows produced by the Bachelor franchise. My summer with Team Echinacea will be slightly truncated because I am starting a Ph.D. at the University of Georgia in August, but I am really looking forward to participating in field work and meeting folks this summer!

In the past, team members have observed Echinacea heads while sitting on buckets. I hope to revolutionize fieldwork this summer by teaching folks to observe buckets while sitting on Echinacea heads.


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