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News & Updates

Flight Challenge Update - testing mSail functions during 2023-2024 overwintering season

Flight challenge scientists are advancing trying out mSAIL (milligram-scale multi-modal sensor) at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.

January 04, 2024

In November 2023, members of the University of Michigan research team (D. André Green II, UM Assistant Professor; Gordy Caricher, UM Senior Research Engineer; and Raúl Zubieta, Senior Research Assistant) initiated new preliminary analyses with mSAIL (milligram-scale multi-modal sensor) in the MBBR. The team previously confirmed that they could transmit mSAIL data from live, freely-behaving butterflies within the Reserve. In this new test, they want to better understand how mSAIL functions longer-term at the overwintering sites. They tagged and released 42 monarchs with the latest mSAIL prototype and will return to the Reserve in December to attempt to recover signals from these tagged individuals.

This will confirm whether mSAIL can function properly for weeks in the fall and winter conditions of the Reserve. This experiment will also set a baseline expectation for the mSAIL recovery rate in larger scale deployments. 

Dr. Isabel Ramírez, Carmelo Martinez and MBBR guides assisted the team with this amazing work which is getting us closer to figuring out how monarchs behave in their overwintering sites and along their entire migration! You can read more about how this challenge began here.

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