Art, biodiversity, chilies, Danaus, and extremes… that’s what I’ve found on sabbatical here in Oaxaca.This is Part IV in my series from Mexico where I am based on sabbatical leave from Cornell (click here for the 3rd post). I’m following up on my recent book Monarchs and Milkweeds: A migrating butterfly, a poisonous plant, and their remarkable story of coevolution. … Read more
Greetings monarch and milkweed enthusiasts from Oaxaca! This is Part III in my series from Mexico where I am based on sabbatical leave from Cornell (see the second post here). This post follows up on observations here that are laying the foundation for my next research and writing projects, continuing on from my recent book Monarchs and Milkweeds.
I recently … Read more
Continuing with Q&A from insightful readers: Chris Padgett of Louisville, KY, recently wrote: “Hello, I recently read your book. I’m curious, is Monsanto or a think tank funded by their industry funding your work? I ask because I find it interesting you suggest GMOs and pesticides are not harming the Monarchs. Hearing you say this in various interviews on YouTube,… Read more
Every couple of weeks I get a very interesting email message from somebody out there who has thought deeply about monarchs and milkweed. Especially since these exchanges can be insightful and relevant to questions others may be asking, I have decided to start sharing some of these exchanges. Below is a wonderful message from a freelance writer, William Hoover, of … Read more
I am getting settled in Oaxaca, on sabbatical leave from Cornell studying milkweeds and monarchs in Mexico. Here is my initial report on plants and insects from the first couple of weeks. The people, culture, food, and biodiversity have all met my expectations so far. What a great country! This is providing inspiration for the next chapter of what I… Read more
Holiday blog on the Princeton University Press site, click here! … Read more
I recently came across a new study by a group of friends and colleagues that blew me away. Of all the environmental pollutants and nasty things we use to kill pests, who knew that fungicides (chemicals used to kill fungus) would become a problem for bumblebee pollinators. This study: McArt, S. H., C. M. Urbanowicz, S. McCoshum, R. E.… Read more
Things are going well on the sabbatical in Missoula, MT! On November 9th I will be speaking at a “friend-raiser” associated with the Montana Natural History Center and the Missoula Insectarium. And in December I will be speaking at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. Both talks will give an overview of monarchs and milkweed and an update on their current predicament. I… Read more
An excellent new study finds that climate, habitat loss (in both Mexico and the USA), disease, & insecticides contribute to decline of monarch butterflies. Although one could quibble with the emphasis placed on discussion of various issues, what I appreciate is the quantitative nature and comprehensiveness of the study, and the attempt to include as many factors as possible. Perhaps… Read more
On July 24th 2017, I set out with my family from Ithaca, NY, for year-long sabbatical leave from Cornell University. Our destination for the fall semester is Missoula, Montana, but our first major stop was a family visit in Urbana, IL. Given my travel companions, especially the kids Jasper (12) and Anna (8), we decided to take our time driving… Read more
As part of being the Vice President of the American Society of Naturalists, I had the opportunity to organize a symposium at the annual meeting in 2016 (Austin, TX). The topic was convergence, natural history, and the big questions in biology. The talks were great, and what I think (hope!) will really have an impact on the field is this… Read more
It’s peak season for milkweed and the village of insects that make milkweed its home. In my book on Monarchs and Milkweed, I devote an entire chapter to these diverse and fascinating other milkweed insects. Below are photos from two days last week (July 6 and 7th), one set from my front yard and the other from Shawangunk National Grassland… Read more
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
Our lab always has a cadre of excellent undergraduate researchers. This academic year was especially great as five students engaged in various projects from the study of bumble bee foraging and learning to mechanisms of toxicity in the Malagasy stem-succulent genus Pachypodium. We are proud of and grateful to all of you… and best wishes to our two graduates, Aliya… 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… 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. Middle row: Dongyan, Jennifer, Mia, Lauren, Zoe, and Heather. Front row: Natasha, Renee, Amy, Lina, Katie, Jacob and Anurag.
… 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… 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