Tracking Monarch Butterflies

Biology

A project by researchers in the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) is tracking the migration of monarch butterflies and trying to determinate how road salt impacts them. Road salt can coat milkweed plants, which are the monarchs’ source of food. MSI PI Emilie Snell-Rood (associate professor, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) and her lab have raised thousands of monarchs and have released them to migrate south.

Citizen scientists can work with this project by participating in Monarch Watch, which allows anyone to keep track of and report migrating butterflies. An article about this project appears on the CBS Connect blog: Winged Road Warriors.

Professor Snell-Rood uses MSI for genetic studies of the cabbage white butterfly to test whether genetic differences in specialization between agricultural and nonagricultural populations are associated with differences in gene expression variability and associated reproductive tradeoffs. The goal is to understand how crop pests adapt to monoculture crops.