The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) has declined by 95% throughout its migratory range between Southern Ontario and Mexico over the past 20 years. This iconic butterfly species has raised public awareness of the potential negative impacts of agricultural chemicals on wildlife conservation. Stressors such as insecticides may disrupt hormonal and physical development of migratory traits and behaviours.
Understanding the ecophysiology of how early-life exposure to pesticides impacts development and behaviour may yield important insights into the mechanisms underlying monarch population declines.
Kiera Newman, a PhD student in the lab, is studying the effects of early-life pesticide exposure on the neuroendocrinology, morphology, and behaviour of monarch larvae and adult butterflies.