09 Aug 2013:
Mapping of Monarch Butterfly
Migration Yields Clues About Decline
A comprehensive mapping of the the North American migration patterns of the iconic monarch butterfly
could help preserve a species threatened by loss of habitat and food sources
, a team of international researchers says. In a study conducted across 17 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces,
A monarch butterfly
from southern Texas to Alberta, biologists from Canada, the U.S., and Australia tracked the northward migration of the monarchs, documenting several generations in a single breeding season. By analyzing a chemical signature found on the adult butterflies’ wings that reveals their specific birthplace, scientists were able to document a breeding “explosion” in the U.S. Midwest, from which many butterflies then travel north into Alberta. According to Tyler Flockhart, a PhD. student at the University of Guelph in Canada and lead author of the study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B
, the decline in milkweed and a surge in genetically modified crops might be affecting monarch survival. “If habitats in the Midwest continue to decline, then monarchs will lose the ability to expand the breeding range, including those butterflies that end up here in Ontario,” he said. Earlier this year, a census at the butterflies’ wintering grounds in Mexico found that population levels were lower than ever previously measured.
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A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
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An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
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Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.