Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

U of G research reveals how monarchs fly away home

27.07.2010
Monarch butterflies — renowned for their lengthy annual migration to and from Mexico — complete an even more spectacular journey home than previously thought.

New research from the University of Guelph reveals that some North American monarchs born in the Midwest and Great Lakes fly directly east over the Appalachians and settle along the eastern seaboard. Previously, scientists believed that the majority of monarchs migrated north directly from the Gulf coast.

The study appears in the recent issue of the scientific journal Biology Letters.

"It's a groundbreaking finding," said Ryan Norris, a Guelph professor in the Department of Integrative Biology who worked on the study with his graduate student Nathan Miller and two researchers from Environment Canada.

"It solves the long-standing mystery of why monarchs always show up later on the east coast compared to the interior," he said. "Importantly, it means that the viability of east coast populations is highly dependent upon productivity on the other side of the mountains."

Monarchs travel thousands of kilometres each year from wintering sites in central Mexico back to North America's eastern coast, a journey that requires multiple generations produced at various breeding regions.

Biologists had suspected that monarchs fly back from Mexico west-to-east over the Appalachians but no evidence existed to support the theory.

"Ours is the first proof of longitudinal migration," Miller said.

For the study, the researchers collected 90 monarch samples from 17 sites between Maine and Virginia in June and July of 2009. They also collected 180 samples of milkweed (the only plant monarch larvae can eat) from 36 sites along the eastern coast between May and July of that year.

They then used hydrogen and carbon isotope measurements to determine when and where the monarchs were born. Isotope values in milkweed vary longitudinally and can be measured in monarch wings, Miller said.

"It provides a natal, geospatial fingerprint that is fixed for the duration of the butterfly's lifespan."

The researchers discovered that 88 per cent of the monarchs sampled originated in the midwest and Great Lakes regions.

"This means that the recolonization of the east coast is by second-generation monarchs that hatched around the Great Lakes and then migrated eastward over the Appalachians," Miller said.

The monarch butterfly has been listed as a species of "special concern" in Canada since 1997. Past conservation efforts have often focused on breeding sites along a northward migration route.

"Our results suggest that this needs to change," Miller said. "We must target the Great Lakes region to conserve the east coast monarch populations."

Contact:
Prof. Ryan Norris
Department of Integrative Biology
519-824-4120, Ext. 56300
rnorris@uoguelph.ca
For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or d.healey@exec.uoguelph.ca

Deirdre Healey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uoguelph.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Individual Receptors Caught at Work
19.10.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Rapid environmental change makes species more vulnerable to extinction
19.10.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>