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 How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>