Current Research

Monarch Butterfly Migration: Mechanisms & Evolution

In one of the most captivating feats of the natural world, each fall, millions of monarch butterflies across the US and southern Canada migrate to specific locations in central Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where they overwinter until the subsequent spring. Many questions remain about how monarchs have evolved solutions to achieve such feats. They represent not only problems for which monarchs have evolved unique solutions (e.g. long-distance, na├»ve navigation), but also ones that are common to all migrators (e.g. the integration of behavior and physiology into a coherent, complex trait).  

I incorporate diverse approaches — developmental and molecular biology, high-dimensional molecular phenotyping (“-omics”), traditional and novel behavioral technologies, and genomics — to study the molecular genetic mechanisms that define a migratory monarch and how these mechanisms have diversified among global monarch populations.