Friday findings – Vol. 2

This was a week buzzing with (tansy) activity! Here’s some highlights.

1) On Monday I gave a talk about some of the work we’re doing in my team on artificial light at night. In particular, I presented a study that is almost ready to submit. The talk inspired an interesting discussion, with some new ideas generated for the future.

2) Our LegacyNet pot study showed good germination, with only five pots out of 120 not having a seedling. That’s pretty reasonable. We’re still doing ecology after all, so you can provide the best conditions possible, but you can’t control a seemingly simple thing like germination. Yesterday, we added aphids to the young seedlings, in order to follow aphid performance on the growing plants. This is such a fun study! Many thanks to Master students Bastian and Johannes, and for the help of PhD researcher Annika.

Students measured seedling height, as me and Annika added aphids to the plants, and bagged them in a cellophane bag.

3) Our Freising tansy field experiment was looking great last week, so I got very excited to actually get some data in from there. I spoke with our technician Sarah about it, and asked her whether she was interested in leading the sampling campaigns, including preparation and planning. Sarah is traditionally a lab person, but has over the years become an important sidekick in the greenhouse. Sarah is meticulous, and super duper reliable. She seemed like a great person to help me out with this. She was more than happy to help. This week I just saw her light up as she was already making first preparations for predation assays, insect trapping assays and some overall planning. PhD researcher Lina already indicated she will assess aphid herbivory in the experiment. This is going to be fun!

Moment of quiet contemplation in our Freising tansy fields. I got a little shook yesterday by the realization that we got all this shit done over the past 1.5 year, even though every gardener at the greenhouse facility here declared me nuts and told me my plans were 100% impossible. Well, we did it.

4) I finished prepping my lectures for the upcoming Landscape Planning course, where I coordinate the ecological part, and will guide the students on ecological optimization of their landscape plans. This is the third year I teach this course. Every year it gets a little nicer, as I try to offer new and more useful aspects. Next Tuesday it is on!

5) I was a little impressed by the team this week. They planned to prepare little cages for a predator-prey interaction study. They needed many, and I guestimated that it was going to take them a few days. They proved me so wrong! In four hours or so they were done. I love it when they prove me wrong. The tansy cuttings will be ready to repot soon. One step closer to a successful experiment.

Team tansy going strong!

6) This morning I had a very fruitful meeting about last year’s Jena tansy field data with Lina, the PhD that collected it. Fourteen sampling events of 504 plants can become a challenging dataset to analyze. I felt that this morning we made great steps towards implementation of the appropriate statistical models. Importantly, we found some interesting effects of chemical diversity on one of the aphid species in the single time point we discussed and analyzed as an example. I’m curious to see what we will find here!

7) I just got a very exciting email. A few weeks ago Lina and I sampled plant volatiles in our Jena site, with great help and expertise of a local PhD researcher, Pamela. She’s been super busy, and shared with us that she already ran all samples, and likely can offer us data in July. She seemed very happy about data quality. This is a very exciting news!

Volatile sampling in Jena

I suppose that’s enough for this week 😃

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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