The semester is officially over, I’m all caught up with my “must do” tasks, and so now it’s time to head out to the field for our first official field season as part of our new project, “Testing adaptive radiation theory in Penstemon.” Paul Blischak and I are joining Mike Stevens (Brigham Young University) for a three week trip through Utah, Nevada, and maybe parts of Idaho. We have a list of species to collect from the Intermountain region, including some of the most interesting edaphic endemics (native to particular soils) in the genus. Who would have thought that beautiful penstemons grow in oil shale, sand dunes, or in pure limestone? It turns out there are lots of these kinds of species in Penstemon, and we’re keen to study why they are so diverse in these harsh habitats.
Here’s an example of one of the limestone outcrop endemics: Penstemon petiolatus. I photographed this beauty in southwestern Utah during last year’s field season. I’ll try to update the blog as we go, but cell reception will be hit-or-miss during most of our field season. I will definitely write about the adventures when I get home.