Zoology class hears guest lecture on Monarch butterflies

Email this article 10/21/2011

monarch Carol Cullar, director of Rio Bravo Nature Center in Eagle Pass, was the guest lecturer on Oct. 19 in the SWTJC Eagle Pass General Zoology Fall 2011 class.

The goal of the guest lecture was to explain "the migratory pattern of Monarch-butterflies across North America." Ms. Cullar discussed the biological clock and ecological and geological factors behind the migratory path of the Monarchs.

With her favorite quote by John Muir (1911) "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe", Ms. Cullar informed the students about the Monarch's natural habitats, specific plants in the biospheres of particular ecological zones, monarch's place in the food chain, their insect predators, lifecycle, affliction by diseases, seasonal light and weather patterns across forests in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The principles of flight patterns through different geographical zones in the North America were also discussed.

After the lecture, the class was guided by Ms. Cullar in tagging a number of Monarch butterflies, identifying their sex, measuring body weight, and noting the presence of insect larva. Data collected by the students will be forwarded to on-going research programs including: University of Kansas Monarch Watch; University of Minnesota Monarch Larvae Monitoring Program, University of Georgia Monarch Health Paracite Studies.

Students participated with tremendous enthusiasm. After collecting and recording data, the class released the butterflies for their journey across Maverick County into Mexico for hibernation during the upcoming winter.

Ms. Cullar has a B.A. degree from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, TX. She also has 13 hours of advanced biology including study of the native wildflowers of West Texas. After her retirement from 20 years of teaching in Eagle Pass, she established the Rio Bravo Nature Center and began an intensive 15 years study of the monarch and the phenomenon of its migration. Through the years, she has conducted several groups of fellow researchers and monarch enthusiasts on fieldtrips to the monarch over-wintering grounds in Central Mexico.

Ms.Cullar lectures across the state for Monarch Joint Venture, a tri-national organization of representatives from Mexico, the U.S., and Canada, dedicated to protecting the monarch and its migration. Ms. Cullar may be contacted at (830) 773-1836 or riobravo.nature@att.net

The students and instructor (S.Kannan) would like to acknowledge Ms. Norma Diaz and Mr. Polo with gratitude for all of their assistance during the guest lecture.

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