2019 Monarch Health Crowdfunding Challenge!

By Sonia Altizer

  • $6,025.00

    Funded. Goal: $6,000.00

  • 101

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Overview

Researchers at the University of Georgia are studying the spread and impacts of a protozoan parasite in wild monarchs through the citizen science project Monarch Health. Launched in 2006, Monarch Health has empowered people across the country to take part in monarch monitoring and conservation efforts.

In 2018, participants sampled more monarchs than any previous year of the project. Our research staff has been working around the clock to process over 6,700 samples, with thousands more to go. We need your help to support our amazing staff and materials for this project! A generous donor has offered to match up to $5000 in crowdfunding donations! We need your help to reach this $5000 goal, which will keep Project Monarch Health running for two more years, and allow us to develop new research, outreach, and training initiatives.

All donations to Project Monarch Health go directly to support training experiences for student research assistants, outreach activities, and supplies for sampling kits. Every $10 donated will fund the processing of 60 samples, and supplies for 2 free sampling kits or a virtual tour of the lab for a classroom. Your donation will help advance our research, the accessibility of our program, and outreach with classrooms and the monarch community. Nearly all of our UGA student interns have gone on to careers in science, medicine, conservation, and education.

Each donation supports our science and outreach goals:

  • Expand our virtual classroom tour program for school teachers and nature centers
  • Develop outreach materials for science educators and monarch enthusiasts
  • Create an interactive online map of Monarch Health results, allowing the public to explore infection patterns over the past 11 years
  • Distribute over 200 free Monarch Health sampling kits to volunteers per year
  • Purchase supplies (exam gloves, sanitation materials, microscope supplies, data books) needed to process samples returned to UGA Offer internship experiences for 4 undergraduate student workers each year to diagnose samples returned to the lab, enter data, and communicate with volunteer

What is Monarch Health?

Monarch Health (MH) is a citizen science project that has mobilized over 1,000 volunteers since 2006 to test more than 45,000 monarchs for infection by the protozoan parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE). Infection can cause wing deformity and failure to reach the adult stage. In other cases, infected adult monarchs appear healthy, despite being covered in millions of parasite spores. Because monarchs infected with OE live shorter and fly less well than healthy butterflies, it is important to monitor  wild populations for infection.

Participants can harmlessly test a monarch for OE by pressing a clear sticker against the butterfly’s abdomen. Participants send their samples to our laboratory at UGA where we determine infection status. Each participant receives a report of the infection status of each butterfly they tested, and season summaries of all results are shared on our program webpage, www.monarchparasites.org.

The broader mission of MH is to understand pathogen spread and impacts on monarch butterflies. We study how infection patterns are changing in response to human activities, and what actions might lower parasite spread. We promote awareness of monarch biology and conservation through the partnership of citizens and scientists.

Support Project Monarch Health

Project Monarch Health was launched in 2006 with support from UGA and a grant from the National Science Foundation. The broader mission of MH is to understand pathogen spread and impacts on monarch butterflies. We study how infection patterns are changing in response to human activities, and what actions might lower parasite spread. We promote awareness of monarch biology and conservation through the partnership of citizens and scientists.

Why this project matters: Monarch Health provides information to monarch enthusiasts regarding responsible rearing of butterflies for scientific and educational purposes, and shares educational materials on the biology of OE, and on disease prevention. Monarch Health compiles scientific data, collected by participants, that allows scientists to answer questions regarding OE infection over long time scales, and the influence of human activities on parasite prevalence.

 

Our research showed that the prevalence of OE in wild migratory monarchs has changed dramatically over the past 12 years. It is possible that some of these changes are caused by human activities such as habitat loss and crowding, and the planting of non-native tropical milkweed. Future monitoring through Monarch Health can help scientists better understand why parasite infections in monarchs are changing.

Contact Us

We depend on donor support to continue tracking infections in wild monarchs. Please visit our main webpage at monarchparasites.org, check out our facebook page, or contact us at monarchhealth@gmail.com with questions about monarch parasites, or to request a sampling kit.

Thank you for your support!

GivingQuestions

Allison Walters | UGA Odum School of Ecology Allison.Walters@uga.edu  | Development Coordinator | 706.542.6007

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  81. Marc Carpenter
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