Monitoring the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary
Winter 2000/2001

Meet Eligio Garcia, a biologist who works for the Mexican government. Each week, he visits all of the largest monarch colonies. He measures the size of the colony, counts the number of trees filled with monarchs, records the temperature, wind speed, and the altitude of the colony. As the season changes, he monitors the many ways that the monarch colonies change. Imagine going to work with Eligio. He is one of the few people who's actually allowed to go into the center of the colony. There he's surrounded by trees filled with millions of butterflies--and the sky is a blizzard of orange.

Each week, Eligio will send his data to you from the Sierra Chincua sanctuary. He has been collecting data since December and recording his observations in his field journal.

1) Print out a copy of Eligio's data sheet for Sierra Chincua Sanctuary

2) Read the entries in Eligio's weekly field journal:

3) Record the observations on your own copy of Eligio's data sheet. (You may need your Spanish/English dictionary!)

4) Make notes about how the colony changes as the season progresses:

  • When temperatures are cold, are there fewer "monarch trees" counted? (When temperatures are cold, the monarchs usually cluster more closely, so the colony requires fewer trees.)
  • Which direction does the colony usually face: north, east, south or west? What does this tell you about habitat preferences?
  • When do you predict the monarchs will begin to mate?
  • When will they move down the mountain in search of water?
  • When will their spring migration begin?
  • When do you think the final monarchs will leave the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary?

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