Dr. Katrina Freund Saxhaug (Phenology)

Introduction:

This week’s featured scientist is Dr. Katrina Freund Saxhaug. Dr. Freund Saxhaug is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Adrian Hegeman’s lab in the Department of Horticulture at the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Sciences. Although her primary research is in plant metabolomics, Dr. Freund Saxhaug volunteers for the long-term phenology project known as Experiment 268 at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. Under the guidance of Dr. Rebecca Montgomery from the Department of Forest Resources at the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Sciences, she tracks the seasonal changes of 80 individual plants of 26 different species at Cedar Creek. In addition to regularly recording these observations, she curates the data, digitizes old handwritten phenology records from Cedar Creek, and is exploring ways to expand the collection of phenological data at Cedar Creek.

Fun Facts:

Did you know…

·       The term “phenology” was coined in 1849 by Charles Morren, a professor of botany at a university in Belgium, in a public lecture.

·       Over the course of its life, the size and sex Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) plant can vary, and an individual Jack-in-the-pulpit can bear no flowers (vegetative state), only male flowers, only female flowers, or male and female flowers together.

·       Sandhill cranes (Antigone canadensis) are considered “responders” to climate change. At Cedar Creek their arrival date is 15 days earlier, on average, than 40 years ago!

·       Red maple trees (Acer rubrum) are considered “polygamodioecious”, meaning that trees are mainly dioecious (male and female flowers on different trees), but male trees may bear some female flowers and female trees may bear some male flowers. Dramatic shifts between male and female in successive years have also been reported.

Resources:

Q&A: https://z.umn.edu/KatrinaQ_A

The Montgomery Lab website: http://ecophys.cfans.umn.edu/

Minnesota Phenology Network: https://mnpn.usanpn.org/home

Backyard Phenology: https://phenology.umn.edu/

Katrina volunteers with the Montgomery Lab out at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. Her current research there focuses on the long-term collection of phenological data at six sites on the property. Hear Katrina explain what phenology is and why it is important in the video linked below. Feel free to check out our YouTube channel while you’re at it!

Just because you’re inside doesn’t mean you can’t explore the outdoors! Take a virtual hike at Cedar Bog Lake, an aquatic habitat that lies in a swampy matrix of white cedar swamp within the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Reserve. Check it out at z.umn.edu/cbl_spring.

Looking for a fun activity for younger audiences? Want to study nature on your own? Check out the phenology-related activities at the links below!

z.umn.edu/PhenologyActivities