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Guiding Questions
for Exploring the Dynamics of the Monarch Population in Mexico

Questions for all monarch population graphs:

  • What information does this graph reveal?
  • What questions does this graph raise?
  • Why do you think the number of monarchs overwintering in Mexico is measured each year?
  • How do you think scientists use this population data?
  • Why do you think it's important to measure and study population data every year?
  • What do you think might be causing any changes you see?
  • If you were in charge of making plans for conserving monarch habitat in Mexico, what data from these charts and graphs would help you make informed decisions?

Questions for use with Graph #1 (population bar graph):
  • Based on the data shown in this graph, in which year was the population the highest? The lowest?
  • What is the average population size from 1994/1995 to the present?
  • How does this year's population compare to those in previous years?
  • How does this year's population compare to the average size?
  • Scientists look for trends. (A trend is a general direction in which something is moving.) What trends do you see in the data? How has the size of the monarch population changed during your lifetime?
  • Divide the data into two halves, the most recent years and the more distant years. Calculate the average again. What do you notice?
  • Do you think the monarch population is healthy based on this information? Why or why not?

Questions for use Graph #2 (pie chart and map):
  • Using the data in this pie chart, how would you describe the distribution of monarchs in the winter sanctuaries?
  • Why do you think monarchs select one sanctuary instead of another one?
  • What factors might influence why monarchs use of one sanctuary over others?
  • How do you think scientists might use the information on this map and graph?
  • Why is it important to have information about the percent of monarchs in each sanctuary?

Questions for use with Graph #3 (two pie charts):
  • What similarities and differences can you find when you compare the data on these two pie charts?
  • According to these pie charts, what is the biggest difference between this year and last year?
  • Why do you suppose monarchs select one colony over another? What factors might be involved?
  • What new information can be learned by comparing last year's data to this year's data?
  • If you looked at only one year’s set of data, which sanctuary would you say needed to be protected? Looking at the data from these two years, which sanctuaries do you think are the most important to protect? Why?
  • Why is it important to have information about the percent of monarchs in each sanctuary from more than one year?
  • Scientists can't predict which sanctuaries most monarchs will select in any particular year. How do you think this makes conservation decisions difficult?
  • What might happen next year? Predict how the chart will look--and plan to come back to see!

Capture Your Thoughts and Questions
As you explore these graphs, record your own questions here: