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Thanks to fossils and the help of citizens, scientists were able to unlock mysteries about monarch butterflies and the evolution of Earth. Come enjoy a drink while you discover fossils and citizen science lead to revealing the Earth secrets.
Using Canadian citizen science data to understand why we had so many monarch butterflies in Canada last summer
Gregory Mitchell (Assistant professor Institute of Environmental Science Carleton University)
The monarch butterfly’s majestic migration between Mexico and Canada is one of the longest in the insect world. Unfortunately, the eastern monarch population has crashed since monitoring began 25 years ago and is highly variable from year to year. We used citizen science data to answer the questions: where and what is driving year-to-year fluctuations in monarch numbers observed in Canada? We found that favorable spring temperatures in Texas, ideal for milkweed growth, results in larger numbers of monarchs arriving in Canada.
Conservation palaeobiology: what fossils can tell us about the past, present, and future
Danielle Fraser (Research Scientist, Palaeobiology, Canadian Museum of Nature Adjunct Research Professor, Carleton University Research Associate, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History)
Humans have had globally devastating impacts, resulting in the loss of much of our natural heritage. The effects of these losses are expected to play out well beyond our lifetimes. However, the timescales over which ecosystems are typically studied are too short to address the long-term effects. The fossil record, however, is the outcome of a series of natural experiments that we can use to understand and forecast how ecosystems may continue to change over the coming decades and centuries.
The imitation game: the evolution of mimicry in plants and animals
Tom Sherratt (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
The mimicry of one species by another is a widespread phenomenon in the natural world. In this short talk I survey (and partly answer) questions that evolutionary biologists have been asking, such as why the similarity of “imperfect” mimics to their models is not further improved by natural selection. I also ask more ecological questions that have been addressed using citizen science data, such as whether climate change is beginning to alter the timing of emergence of some well-known mimics and their models, and consider what it might mean for the stability of their remarkable relationship.