Seminar Speaker: Dr. Patrick Guerra

Date: Monday, January 22, 2018
Time: 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Location: 3503 Thomas Hall, Stephens Room

Dr. Patrick Guerra is from the University of Cincinnati. This will be a joint seminar between Genetics, Entomology, and the WM Keck Center for Behavioral Biology and is hosted by Dr. Coby Schal.

Seminar Title:
“There and back again: the compass mechanisms migratory monarch butterflies use to get to and return from Mexico”

Millions of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) undergo an awe-inspiring, annual long-distance migration in North America. For example, during the fall, migratory monarchs that live east of the Rocky Mountains will fly southwards from the northern ranges of their habitat range in the northern USA and southern Canada to overwintering sites in central Mexico. After the overwintering period, these same individuals will leave the overwintering sites and fly northwards, in order to start the remigration back during the spring. How do monarchs correctly orient southwards during the fall migration in order to reach overwintering sites in Mexico, despite being on their maiden voyage? How do monarchs re-orient during the spring remigration, in order to properly return northwards? In this talk, I will describe how monarchs can employ two types of sensory-based compass mechanisms, a bi-directional time-compensated sun compass, and an inclination-based magnetic compass, for directionality during migration. I will also describe how contemporary environmental stressors, such as climate change and sensory noise pollution, might significantly interfere with proper compass function.