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Plant-insect interactions in Echinacea angustifolia

Year: 2013
Project Description:

Reproduction in the purple coneflower, Echinacea angustifolia, occurs each July in western Minnesota. Peak flowering varies from year to year by several weeks. In a large experimental planting of Echinacea in a prairie restoration, we have observed that seed set starts high and declines during the flowering season. We want to know why. Do different bees species visit early and late in the season? Does the efficiency of a single pollinating species decline over the season? Do ants scare away bees (Ants are on flowerheads to tend aphids that build up late in the season)? We would like an REU participant to experimentally test one of these hypotheses this summer. Results will offer insight into the timing of interactions between plants, pollinators, herbivores, and ants and help predict effects of weather, and potential effects of climate change, on species interactions and plant reproduction. Fieldwork will include observing, capturing, and identifying insects. Techniques may include videography and experimental insect addition and exclusion. For more information visit the Echinacea Project website: http://echinaceaProject.org/

Location:
Chicago Botanic Garden (1 wk) and field site in western Minnesota (9 wks)
Lab/Field:
Field
Fieldwork Conditions:
Bees, Insects, Pollen,