MBF granted entomology MSc Student, Anna Skye Harnsberger from the Wisconsin Energy Institute and BS/MS student Cody Prouty from the University of Georgia the “Lincoln P. Brower Award” in April 2019.
Anna’s research is focused on understanding the effects of milkweed patch size and surrounding landscape on monarch presence and survival in the Upper Midwest United States. Anna will survey habitat characteristics and monarchs at 60 sites in Wisconsin that vary in patch size and the landscape context within which the patches exist. This will help her explore how monarch presence, density, and survivorship vary across sites to understand the effect of habitat size and isolation on monarch presence and survival. She has presented a poster with her preliminary results. Currently, Anna is statistically analyzing the data collected in 2018 and 2019, as well as planning for the 2020 field research season. These analyses will eventually be published so that Anna can disseminate this research which will contribute to the improvement of breeding habitat restoration for monarch butterflies
Cody concluded his experiments to determine how exposure to neonicotinoids affects monarch behavior and population size. Three studies examined how monarch caterpillars and adults respond to increasing doses of two different neonicotinoid insecticides. Cody concluded that monarchs are more susceptible when exposed to neonicotinoids as larvae than adults, and the milkweed species they were reared on can also affect their response to the insecticides. Monarchs exposed as adults will have lethal and sub-lethal effects at concentrations much higher than what could be found in wild nectar. Cody’s study will provide an understanding of the impacts of neonicotinoids on monarch behavior and physiology, including potential consequences for the long-distance migration of this iconic butterfly. On November, 2019 Cody presented a summary of his research so far and will be presenting his final reports soon.