The MonarchWatch project is coordinated by Orley "Chip" Taylor
of the University of Kansas. He tells about
the idea behind the project.
How did you decide to do this study?
How do the isotopes work in this case?
"Glen Watson contacted us, he was involved with the song bird
study. I should back up a little. They became involved in the
study of the model forest in New Mexico through the Canadian Forestry
Service, and the model forest study that incorporates roost areas.
One of the things they do is collect monarchs at the roost sites and then
get an idea of where they originated from. They then posted a note on
this and came out with a bilateral agreement last fall between the
Canadians and the Mexicans. I read their note and posted my own
message saying what I thought that meant. I wasn't right on, but
I was pretty close to what it meant. About two months later they
contacted me and said 'We think we could use some cooperation from
people raising monarchs all over the country and then sending them
in.' We also needed some controlled stugy. I said, 'I can help
you with the controlled study' which we did last semester."|
The University of Kansas prepares all of the materials which are
shipped out to the more than 90 sites nationwide.
We started rearing milkweed on isotopically labeled enhanced water
(deuteriated water) by using isotope product which has a certain level
of deuterium in it, dilute this and use it to dilute the water sources.
We used three concentrations of deuterium in the water to raise the milkweed
plants, and the butterflies.|
So we have three levels of deuterium in kind of a controlled system,
so we know what the deuterium input is in the water, in the plant,
and in the gestation of the butterflies. We are going to use this as the
controlled check against everything that is being reared out there by
people from all over the country.
||Mating Cage - filled with male and female monarchs. Contains
a tray of hermeculite potting material and water to maintain the
humidity in the cage. Also contains a tray of a juice made of vitamin
C, sugars, and preservatives for the Monarchs to drink.
||Privacy chambers - once the monarchs in the mating cage begin to mate
they are removed and placed into these privacy chambers until they
separate. The males are then placed back into the mating cage.
||Oviposition chambers - The females are placed into these chambers after
mating. They contain milkweed plants and a tray of juice. Females will
lay their eggs on the leaves of the Milkweed every three days.
The plants with eggs are then removed and
decontaminated with a solution of 400ml distilled water and 10ml
||Egg cups - the eggs are placed into these small cups. The color of the
cup changes every three days so that the approximate age of the eggs
can be determined. The amount of isotope in the artifical diet used
in these cups is changed every five days.
The eggs are then mailed out to the testing sites.