Staying Dusty – Team Dust 2022 Update

Over the course of this summer, the dust project has continued! Team Dust is now on its second year of studying the effects of dust deposition on Echinacea angustifolia’s seed set, through both an experimental study (to determine if dust deposition affects seed set) and an observational study (to determine the amount of dust traveling off of unpaved roads). Now that we are over half way done with the field season, below is a brief update of what has been done so far this summer, and what is still yet to come.

Experimental Study

This summer we have 64 Echinacea heads included in the experimental study, located at the prairie remnant Nice Island. Of these 64 heads, half of them were randomly selected to receive dust treatments while the other half receive no dust. Twice a week I venture out to these heads to give the “dusty” heads their dust while the others receive none. All of these heads are located at a site where little to no dust comes in naturally. Once these heads are ready to be harvested, they will be run under an x-ray to determine their seed set. Currently we have the x-rays from last year’s heads, but not all of them have been analyzed so there is no data to report as of now.

Observational Study

The observational part of this project is about to begin! This past week, Kennedy and I assembled the dust traps (pictured below) that we are going to use to measure dust levels at varying distances from unpaved roads. We then placed these traps at two different remnants (pictured below). Over the course of the next two weeks, these dust traps will be loaded in order to collect data. The second part of the observational study, new to Team Dust as of 2022, is collecting styles from flowering Echinacea heads alongside unpaved roads. Kennedy and I managed to collect some styles on Thursday, which went well! Currently these styles are sitting in the freezer, but they will soon be analyzed under a microscope to look for dust covering them.

Overall, lots has already been done this summer, but there is still plenty left to do!


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