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Monarch Butterflies, Migration and Human Impact

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Monday, April 20th, 2020
to (Eastern Time)


Monarch Butterflies, Migration and Human Impact
Presented by Stephen B. Malcolm, Chemical Ecologist and Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University

Program Description
The monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus (L.), is a familiar, milkweed-feeding insect that exploits a high diversity of approximately 130 species of native milkweed in the genus Asclepiasacross North America. The butterfly has a complex migratory life history that enables them to exploit Asclepias milkweeds over the entire distribution of these plants in North America. These annual movements bring the insects into contact with a series of human technologies that pose both threats and solutions to their viability. I explore how and why monarchs migrate to find these larval host plants and the impact of the threats they face as they negotiate ecosystems dominated by human activities.

Photo by Rob Routledge, Sault College,

Stephen Malcolm is a chemical ecologist interested in chemically mediated interactions among plants, herbivores, and natural enemies. He is particularly interested in how cardiac-active steroids vary in milkweeds in response to insect herbivore attack, how these steroids are handled by the herbivores and how they impact parasitoids and predators. In addition, he works on ways to measure the ecological risks associated with widespread agricultural use of genetically modified plants. These interests merged with a controversy over the effects of Bt corn pollen on monarch butterfly larvae feeding on milkweeds.

Malcolm has:

Edited the interdisciplinary journal Chemoecology.
Presented research papers at Gordon Research Conferences and at international meetings and universities in the U.S., Europe and Australia.
Published extensively in refereed journals and books including Biology and Conservation of the Monarch Butterfly.

Stephen Malcolm's personal website.

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