I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Paul Feeny, one of the all-time great scientists who studies plant-herbivores interactions. Paul has been at Cornell since 1967, and was one of the founders of the discipline of chemical ecology. Over the years Paul has had many successful students, he taught a range of courses, and contributed to the communal… Read more
See new op-ed article posted on Scientific American: Monarchs in Peril… Read more
Here is an update on monarch and milkweed happenings… Over the past few weeks I have visited several natural history venues for a modest book tour — it has gone very well, with the added pleasure of meeting some well-known citizen scientists and old friends. It started with a Chats in the Stacks at Cornell which is now online on youtube!… Read more
Thanks to all for another great semester of the plant-interactions group!
PIG Spring 2017. Top Row, in Geneva, NY: Matt, Max, Kyle, Charlie, and Mike. Back Row: Todd, Andre, Katja, Patty, Nick, Greggor, and Scott. … Read more
Coevolution is a special kind of evolution. And monarchs and milkweeds exemplify this special process. In particular, what makes coevolution special is reciprocity. In other words, coevolution is one species that evolves in response to the other, and the other species evolves in response to the first. Thus, it is a back-and-forth that has the potential to spiral out of… Read more
Folks in the lab are frequently engaged in outreach activities, ranging from visits to elementary schools to high school teacher training. In the past year, we have visited South Seneca and Belle Sherman elementary schools in Ithaca, and the Lincoln Street Elementary School in Waverly, NY. We also participate in Expanding Your Horizons events, Cornell Entomology’s Insectapalooza, Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers, the Diversity… Read more
I recently returned from a spring trip to the Austin, TX area in search of re-migrating monarch butterflies: 8-month old animals weighing less than a dollar bill, that had traveled for thousands of miles, rested in Mexico for 5 months, and crossed the border again. A postdoc in the lab, Patty Jones, joined for the trip, which auspiciously started with… Read more
The following is a Q&A just posted to the Princeton University Press website and blog.
Asclepias welshii, Coral Pink Sand Dunes
What makes monarchs and milkweeds so special?
AA: Monarchs and milkweed are remarkable creatures, they’re on a wild ride! From the monarch’s perspective, its only food as a caterpillar is the milkweed plant. This makes them highly specialized, highly… Read more
Check out the spectacular new hiking trail guide to the Ithaca area! https://ithacatrails.org/map … Read more
Monarchs and Milkweed is now available, although the official release date from Princeton University Press in April 11. On Saturday April 8th, I will be participating in the San Antonio Book Festival. Early reviews have been positive (thank you!), including a whirlwind summary in the Washington Post, which emphasizes conservation issues and my argument that milkweed limitation is not driving the decline of monarchs. On the left… Read more
On Friday March 24, we had our third winter walk… after a mostly snow-free and rather warm winter, last week we got well over a foot of snow in Ithaca. Schools (including Cornell) were closed for 2 days, and we all did a bit of skiing. The ground has retained more snow cover from this storm than it had all winter.… Read more
The women of Cornell’s plant-herbivore group (Jennifer, Natasha, Zoe, Katja, Katie, Lina, and Aino) recently returned from the plant-herbivore interactions gordon research conference. Pictures below by Jennifer Thaler. As usual, Jennifer described the GRC as a love-fest, seeing old friends and meeting new colleagues. Especially fun for those in attendance (I was home looking after the family) were all of the… Read more
It’s unclear when humans became humans. Presumably it was a gradual growth of our consciousness over the eons. There are some things, however, that appear to distinguish us from most other animals. For example, our artistic depictions. From the deepest, darkest caves have emerged pictures of humanity from thousands of years ago. And in an Egyptian tomb, that of Nebamun,… Read more
The estimates of the monarch butterfly overwintering population were announced Thursday February 9th by WWF Mexico. The butterflies are so dense at their dozen or so mountain-top clustering sites that overwintering butterflies cannot be counted. Instead, the area of forest that is densely coated with butterflies (at about 5,000 butterflies per square meter looking up into the canopy) is estimated… Read more
Cornell’s Plant-Insect Group, affectionately known as PIG, has been meeting for weekly discussions every semester for at least 12 years. In the old days, Paul Feeny and Dick Root would join us for inspiring discussions, merging the past with the future. These days, the Ithaca group, digitally connected with folks in Geneva, NY, is frequently a gaggle of over 30… Read more
The plight of monarch butterflies is often in the news and many scientists around the world are working hard to understand their annual migratory cycle. How do the monarchs produced during summer in the northern reaches of America contribute to the overwintering population in Mexico? The origins of monarch butterflies that make it to Mexico has been hotly debated and… Read more
My new book, Monarchs and Milkweed, a highly illustrated popular science book will be available in late March from Princeton University Press. Here is what Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, says: It’s impossible to imagine the world without monarch butterflies. But they face mounting challenges. This clear, fact-packed book looks at this astonishing and… Read more
Hi folks! Welcome to the revised landing page, with the added benefit of blog posts. You’ll see posts related to interesting ecology and evolutionary biology, monarch butterflies, and and our plant-insect interactions weekly discussions here. For this first post, I simply want to let you know that past “Lab News” back to 2009 can be found here.… Read more