Analyzing Migration Maps
Watch Your Language!

Where are the monarch butterflies right now? How far have they flown from Mexico? When you describe the progress of a migration, be very careful about the words you choose. Always remember: We only know as much about a migration as our participants tell us!

We only know as much about a migration as our participants tell us!

Try This:

1) Look Closely at Our Language
Here are some sample statements we have made. Circle the words we used to indicate how or where we got the information.

  • According to our observers, the monarchs from Mexico are now in Oklahoma.
  • The map shows that the monarchs have now reached the Great Lakes.
  • Based on a report from the town of York, Nebraska, monarchs have now arrived in that state.
  • The first monarch reported in Michigan was on April 21st.
  • A monarch was reported in Ohio at latitude 41N.
  • The leading edge of the migration is now in New Jersey, according to a reporter there.
Think! Try reading the phrases without the words you circled. Explain how the meaning changes. Why do we need to show how or where we got the data instead of stating things as facts? Keep a list of specific examples.

Scientists always question data that they haven't verified themselves!
2) Try to Catch Us Making a Mistake!
Do we do a good job describing migration based on the limitations of our data? Can you catch us stating facts that we can't know for sure? Read for examples! Here are spring migration updates from the past few years. (Beginning in mid-March each spring, the updates contain a migration map and a description.)

Keep a list of the words we chose to convey information accurately. If you find sentences that you think we need to rewrite, please let us know!

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