Local Adaptation Investigation Overview

We are investigating patterns of adaptation in common milkweed and the probable causes for these patterns.

About Local Adaptation

The Local Adaptation Experiment is a collaborative research project that is studying whether milkweeds are matched to the environments they come from, or whether they do better when moved to a new environment. This is important because more and more milkweed is being planted, and we need to understand the implications of moving milkweeds to new places. The project is not open to new participants at this time.

MAREN began with 30 educators from across the region where common milkweed goes. In 2017, each of them harvested local milkweed seeds, and in 2018, they each planted some local and some nonlocal seeds in a common garden. Every spring and fall, educators and students measure plant growth, like the number of leaves and seed pods and the heights of the plant. By taking these measurements over the course of several years, we can look for patterns to determine whether or not plants do better when they are grown in their local environment.

We welcome new submissions of seeds from naturally occurring milkweed populations at any time! However, because seeds needed to be swapped, the Local Adaptation experiment is now closed to new participants. We are still accepting participants in the Phenology Project.

Current Local Adaptation Project participants can still find the experiment protocols and data sheets as well as data submission links in the Local Adaptation Project dropdown menu. Our Local Adaptation curriculum and lab materials have moved to the Teaching Materials dropdown.

Contribute Seeds to Our Network

We invite you to submit milkweed seeds from naturally occurring (not planted) populations to our collection. We accept seeds on an ongoing basis and use them to answer questions about geographic variation in milkweed.