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Fall course explores Monarch butterflies

Research Achievements

Fall course explores Monarch butterflies

The Fall 2009 IGERT course, "Climates & Borders: Monarch Butterflies and Local Economies in Mexico," led by co-PI A. Townsend Peterson (biology) and team taught by Chris Brown (geography), Nate Brunsell (geography/atmospheric science), and Jorge Soberon (biology), conducted a study of the migration of the Monarch butterflies from North America and the changing climate of their over-wintering sites in Michoacan, Mexico. The class developed a measure of geographical and climatic "lethal zones" and "lethality" based on averages of temperature x precipitation space over the periods 1980-present and 1995-present. Results of this study showed that the monarch colony region is becoming more in danger of encountering lethal zones in the overwintering areas. Trainee, Anna Kern (sociology) will present the class findings in the summer 2010 at the Annual Conference on the Biology of the Butterflies in Alberta, Canada.