RECENT RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS
Milkweed cardenolides reduce parasite infection in monarch butterflies, as shown in our Journal of Chemical Ecology paper.
Animal migration can have both negative and positive consequences for parasite prevalence. For monarch butterflies, migration reduces infection, but current changes in climate and milkweed abundance are leading to increases in prevalence.
Monarch butterflies are commonly infected with a protozoan parasite. Long-term analysis shows that parasite prevalence has sharply increased since the early 2000’s, and that parasites kill up to millions of migratory monarchs each year.
Elevated carbon concentrations, as occurring through current climate change, can result in a loss of medicinal properties of milkweeds. See our paper in Ecology Letters.
Genomic analysis shows that eastern and western North American monarchs form a panmictic population, and that migration differences appear to be associated with changes in gene expression.