Friday, October 22, 2010

UGA Odum School of Ecology featured on National Geographic's "Great Migration" series

A film crew from National Geographic spent three weeks in June 2009 at the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology shooting video footage for “Great Migrations: Born to Move,” which will air on National Geographic Channel Sunday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m.It features the life cycle and migration of monarch butterflies, and includes scenes filmed at the Odum School with help from ecology faculty, students and staff.

Professor Gary W. Barrett, who holds the Odum Chair in Ecology, helped the film crew capture scenes showing predation of monarchs by mice and arranged for video footage to be shot at UGA’s HorseShoe Bend Ecology Experimental Research Site.

Associate Professor Sonia Altizer’s students and laboratory staff assisted with sequences of the monarch life cycle. “People in my lab guided the photographers and assistants and provided materials to them to film monarch eggs, larvae, pupation, adults laying eggs, praying mantis eating monarchs, and more,” said Altizer, an expert on monarch butterflies.She has conducted substantial research on the variation among monarch butterflies across their worldwide range, and the ecological and evolutionary consequences of their long-distance migration, particularly as it relates to host-parasite interactions. Her study of the relationship between migration distance and monarch butterfly wing shape, co-authored with Andy Davis, assistant research scientist in the Odum School, was published in the journal Evolution in Feb. 2010.

Monarch butterflies that breed in the eastern U.S. migrate to central Mexico each fall. The video footage shot in the ecology building and at HorseShoe Bend will appear in the first episode of the series, along with footage shot in Mexico.

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