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Biology department honors students at ninth annual awards night

April 7, 1997

Lecturer discusses the flight of monarch butterflies

By Jennifer Bjorgaard

Lariat Reporter

The Biology Department hosted its annual awards night April 4, recognizing students' achievements.

The awards night also featured Dr. Lincoln P. Brower as the speaker for the Davidson Lecture Series.

According to a University press release, Dr. Floyd Davidson was a faculty member of the Biology department from 1946 to 1997. Davidson was the chair of the department from 1966 to 1997, and along with his wife, endowed this lecture series.

Brower received a Ph.D. in Zoology from Yale University in 1957 and is currently Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology at the University of Florida. Brower has spent most of his life researching the Monarch Butterfly. He has lectured in several other countries, produced four documentary films and has appeared on several television shows.

'The Grand Saga of the Monarch Butterfly' was the topic of Friday's lecture. Brower spoke about the migration of these 'flying wildflowers' from Canada through Texas and on to Mexico, which is a 1,500 mile journey. The butterflies spend the winter months high in the mountains outside of Mexico City.

Brower presented slides of millions of butterflies flying through the forests in orange-colored swarms.

The butterflies migrate to the top of the mountains because the temperature is very similar to the Canadian Forest in the North. To keep warm, the Monarchs cluster on the trees, turning them orange in color.

Recently more attention has been focused on the harmful effects of deforestation of the Mexican forest. When the trees are cut down in the forest, the butterflies are no longer protected from the harsh temperatures during the winter. Brower has been working with other countries to put pressure on the Mexican government to stop the thinning of the forest and to protect the Monarchs.

Brower wants to make these areas controlled tourist attractions like other valued treasures.

'Why should we worry about the Monarchs ... because the butterflies are a priceless endangered phenomena. They should be at the same value as the Mona Lisa, the Crown Jewels or the Pieta,' said Brower.

After the lecture, awards were given for outstanding seniors in biology, research fund awards and tuition scholarships. The Cornelia M. Smith Scholarship Award was given to Carly Evans, a senior from Iola, Kan. Seventeen students also received research awards from the department.

'I found the lecture to be very interesting, even though I study mammals, not insects,' said Sarah Brosnan, a Ponte Verdra Beach, Fla. junior, who was awarded two research fund awards for her study of the monogamy and paternal care in Prairie Voles. 'I think learning the natural history of any animal is interesting.'

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