U of G Prof Talks Monarch Butterflies With Scientific American

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Ryan Norris headshotThe August issue of Scientific American hit newsstands today and features an interview with U of G’s Prof. Ryan Norris talking about a new study on the impact of traffic on caterpillars.

The University of Georgia found that caterpillar hearts beat 17 per cent faster when exposed to traffic noise for two hours than those of caterpillars in a silent room. The heart rates of the noise-exposed group returned to baseline levels after exposure to non-stop traffic sounds throughout their larval development period. The article said butterflies may have a reduced stress response, which could impair their ability to respond to danger while migrating to Mexico.

A professor in U of G’s Department of Integrative Biology, Norris said that whether a noisy larval period reduces monarchs’ survival rates is unknown, but that he believes mortality rates for butterflies rise when they’re closer to traffic because of collisions with cars.

Norris studies butterflies, birds, animal behaviour and migration.