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College of Arts and Sciences monarch butterflies

Scientists look to public to help collect migratory data

During the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge, which started on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, and runs through April 22, Earth Day, California residents are asked to report sightings of monarchs. The data they collect will give much-needed insight into the butterflies’ habitat needs during the spring months, so researchers can better target conservation efforts.

“We are already receiving sighting reports, which is very exciting,” said Cheryl Schultz, a WSU biology professor and a lead researcher on the project. “The reports show » More …

International call to halt massive insect decline

Monarch butterfly.From bees to butterflies, ants to wasps, insect populations of all kinds are at risk, according to a growing scientific consensus. Their decline also threatens the many ecosystem services that depend on them, including food production.

“It’s clear that we’re experiencing massive insect declines both in species and in abundance,” said WSU Vancouver conservation biologist Cheryl Schultz. “We are becoming increasingly aware that species that were once common across the landscape are now rare.”

To avert this potential disaster, Schultz recently joined more than 70 scientists from 21 countries in » More …

Off the beaten path

monarch butterfly on yellow plant“The monarchs were a big surprise for me,” says Rod Sayler. “It’s the first time I’ve seen them at WSU except for fly-bys. I thought, ‘Wow, it finally happened!’”

Sayler, an unabashed naturalist known for his signature straw hat, is project director for the WSU arboretum and an associate professor in the School of the Environment. In an age of climate specialists and policy wonks, Sayler revels in the down-to-earth study of nature in all its intricate bounty.

For the last nine years, he and his colleagues have painstakingly transformed a wedge of farmland into a botanical garden alive with wildflowers, native bees, meadowlarks, amphibians, rabbits, deer, and more. It’s a campus dream over a century in the making, says Sayler, one that finally came to fruition in 2008.

» More …