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Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: February 9, 2000

Today's Report Includes:

Greetings from the Monarch Sanctuaries

Eligio With Field Notebook #7

Biologist Eligio Garcia sends this greeting from the mountains in Mexico, where the millions of monarch butterflies from the U.S. and Canada have gone for the winter:

"Hola Amigos. Yo soy Eligio Garcia Serrano. Soy biologo y trabajo en la Reserva de le Biosfera Mariposa Monarca. Tengo siete anos trabajando con las mariposas, y cada ano monitoreo todas las colonias."

Monitoring the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary With Eligio Garcia

Can You Find the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary?

Eligio works for the Mexican government. Each week, he visits all of the largest monarch colonies. He measures the size of the colony, counts the number of trees filled with monarchs, records the temperature, wind speed, and the altitude of the colony. As the season changes, he monitors the many ways that the monarch colonies change. Imagine going to work with Eligio. He is one of the few people who's actually allowed to go into the center of the colony. There he's surrounded by trees filled with millions of butterflies--and the sky is a blizzard of orange. Here are pictures taken on one of Eligio's typical work days:

Each week, Eligio will send his data to you from the Sierra Chincua sanctuary. The first will arrive next week. So print your own copy of Eligio's data sheet, pull out your Spanish dictionary, and see if you can answer the first Challenge Question of the season:

Challenge Question #1
"You'll need to know the following Spanish words to collect data with Eligio this spring: Fecha, Numero de Arboles, Altura Temperatura, Hora, Ciel, Viento, Exposicion, Pendiente. What information will Eligio send from Sierra Chincua each week?"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Why So Few Monarchs This Year?
This winter, Eligio reports that there are only 350 trees in the Sierra Chincua sanctuary that are filled with monarchs. This compares to 1,750 monarch trees in the same sanctuary last year.

Challenge Question #2
"How does the size of this year's monarch population at Sierra Chincua compare to last year's? (Can you give your answer as a percent change?) What conclusions can you draw from Eligio's monitoring data? What possible explanations might explain the change?"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Life in the Sanctuary Area
Children and Families Share Their Stories

Journey North's Jenny Johnson recently returned to the U.S. after spending 2 months in the Mexican sanctuary region. While there, she coordinated the participation of 37 classrooms in the Symbolic Monarch Migration. She became friends with many people who live there, and they shared stories about their lives with her. Each week, we'll post these first-person accounts in English and in Spanish. We hope these stories will portray the personal side of monarch conservation, as seen through the eyes of the children and families who live in the region. While these people are some of the poorest in our hemisphere, much of the responsibility for monarch conservation falls on their shoulders.
Meet Orelia Moreno

  • Orelia Moreno Comparte Sobre su Vida en un Ejido (Spanish)
    "Mi mamá es la primera persona que se levanta en la mañana. Me levanto después de ella y la primera cosa que hago es hacer mi cama...Tenemos que usar cuatro mantas por cada persona durante las noches porque hace mucho frío en Cerro Prieto, especialmente durante los meses de invierno en diciembre, enero y febrero."
  • Orelia Moreno Shares Life on an Ejido (English)
    "My mother is the first person to wake up in the morning. I wake up after her and the first thing I do is make my bed. After this I must help my mother prepare breakfast. We usually have tea and tortillas with beans...We have to use four blankets for each person at night because it gets very cold in Cerro Prieto, especially during the winter months of December, January and February."

Challenge Question #3
"What is an 'ejido'? What do 'ejidos' have to do with monarch conservation?"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Comparing and Contrasting Language and Culture

1) On the web, pull up the Spanish version of Orelia's story and share as a class. Look closely at each picture. Without reading the English version, can you use the pictures to describe what the report is about? Looking at the photos, what do you think you're seeing? Try to read the Spanish. Are there any words that you recognize? Use a Spanish/English dictionary and look up a few words that interest you.

2) Write your own stories which you think describe Orelia's life. Use descriptive words.

3) Next, print out the English version and read. Was the story you wrote an accurate description? What surprised you the most?

4) Finally, compare and contrast your life and activities with those of Orelia Moreno and her friends and family. Write a paragraph about how you would feel if you could live in Orelia's family for a while. Use a Venn Diagram or a T-Chart to show how her life is similar and different from yours. You could compare such things as:
  • chores and responsibilities
  • games and other ways you play
  • school
  • favorite foods and common foods
  • materials and equipment used in daily life

"Field Guide" to Monarchs on the Wintering Grounds
Over the next six weeks, you will receive weekly news from the monarch's wintering grounds. Read each report for information and facts about monarch biology and conservation. Much of the information you will receive cannot be found in a book--so why not write and illustrate your own? (Extra credit to anyone who writes in Spanish!)

Students are welcome to download pictures from the Journey North website to include in their work. (For classroom use only. Credit: Journey North

How to Respond to Today's Monarch Challenge Questions|

question in each e-mail message!

1. Address an e-mail message to:

2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 1 (or # 2 or #3)

3. In the body of the EACH message, answer ONE of the questions above.

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on February 16, 2000.

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