University of Minnesota

Ecology Fair University of Minnesota Monarch Lab

Abstracts from St. Hubert School 2016

St. Hubert School
8201 Main St
Chanhassen, MN 55317

Year: 2016
Teacher(s): Cindy Petersen

Amazing Annelids

Matt L

Did you know there are around 2700 species of worms today? I wanted to learn if different habitats would affect the quantity of the epigeic, endogeic and anecic earthworms. To test this I used a mixture of water and ground mustard to bring worms up to the surface for counting in a square meter area. From my experiment I found the average amount of worms in each habitat: Mulched garden 10, Forest 26 and Prairie 7. I found that the forest habitat has the highest average quantity of worms.

Eggcellent Temperatures

Lauren T

Do monarchs have a preferred temperature to thrive at? I wanted to test monarch hatching and survival of early instar larva under 3 different temperature conditions (95*F, 68*F, and 35*F). I first divided 30 eggs into 6 containers, putting 2 containers into each condition. Each day, I recorded the number of instars to monitor progress into the adult stage. I found that they thrive best in room –temperature conditions, with 90% of the larva surviving to the adult stage. Monarchs in the colder conditions did not even make it past the egg stage, while monarchs in the heat conditions all hatched but then all died shortly after becoming first instars. My data shows that monarch cannot survive in extreme conditions, both hot and cold. 

More Microclimate!

Tien F

Have you ever felt, cold, then as you move to another spot you feel hot? This made me wonder: How does elevation and location affect microclimate. Also, how to insects adapt to microclimate? So what I did was go to Spring Peepers Meadow and measure the temperature (high and low) and the humidity (high and low) and the wind speed (high and low), in several different spots. Also I counted how many insects were in each spot. I found that insects generally went to the cooler spots and more humid spots- which were generally lower to the ground. The wind did not affect where the insects went. I also found that microclimate does exist and found a difference of 5 degrees in some places


Abby N

Imagine eating the same food your whole life, all because a myth said if you changed your diet you would die. Cecropia moth caterpillars have a wide variety of foods they can eat, but there is an old wives’ tale that says they need to remain on the same food for their whole life or they will die. I proved this wrong in my experiment by changing their diet from lilac leaves to either apple, spiraea, or pear. I also found, out of spiraea, lilac, pear, and apple leaves, lilac will make cecropia caterpillars grow the longest. I measured the growth of 52 caterpillars weekly to gather my data. My caterpillars reared on lilac grew to the top length of 70 millimeters over the summer.

Need More Moisture?

Tatum E

For my experiment, I asked the question how does the amount of moisture in lilac leaves affect the growth of cecropia caterpillars? I obtained forty-two cecropia caterpillars and split them into four different groups. I fed the first group fresh lilac leaves, the second group one day old lilac leaves, the third group three day old lilac leaves, and the fourth group five day old lilac leaves. Once a week, I measured the growth of each caterpillar in millimeters. Throughout the entire experiment, there was very little difference in the growth rates. I found that while the caterpillars eating three and five day old leaves pupated a week earlier than the other, all of the caterpillars were around the same size when they pupated.  

Pollinator Preference

Mike S, Greg S

An estimated 1/3 of all food and beverages humans consume are created by pollinators. In this experiment, the color of a flower; white, yellow, and purple was tested to see the affect on the number of insect pollinators attracted to that flower. In order to answer the experimental question the number of times pollinators pollinated or visited each color of flower was recorded. The flowers were monitored two times a week for ten minute intervals for each color of flower. Data was collected on seven different pollinators including; honey bee, bumble bee, sweat bee, other bees, beetles, butterflies and other pollinators. The study concluded that the yellow flower was the most popular and the white flower was the least popular among all pollinators.


Predation Nation

Nora T

Due to predation, less than 10% of monarchs in the wild survive to become butterflies. In my experiment, I raised 60 monarchs at home and put a certain number of eggs, first, and second instars on nonflowering and flowering milkweed plants in the wild. I checked each plant every day to see how many monarchs were left.  I wanted to find how the type of milkweed (flowering or nonflowering) affects the amount of monarch predation, and which stage of monarch metamorphosis (egg, 1st, or 2nd instar) has the greatest mortality rate. I found that the survival rate for eggs was 40% for flowering and 30% for nonflowering milkweed, for 1st instars, it was 10% and 0%, and for 2nd instars, it was 0% and 10%.

Searching Senses

Elle B

Have you ever wondered how monarch caterpillars can find their food with their limited senses? I set up different experiments that singled out each sense, which told me what sense they used the most. Each monarch caterpillar was tested in their third, fourth, and fifth instars, to see if their senses evolved over time or not. I measured sections of the circle and counted how many caterpillars were in the allotted space to see which sense they used to find the milkweed. How does each sense (taste, touch, sight, smell) affect how monarch caterpillars find common milkweed? The results of my experiment were that a caterpillar relies on it's smelling sense the most with an average of 8 caterpillars in one space.  

Sensational Plants

Zoe E

Can plants learn? The Mimosa pudica plant just might I asked the question, what stimuli (dropping, blowing,  vinegar odor and lemongrass oil odor) applied to Mimosa pudica plant cause the fastest rate of habituation demonstrated by the plant not closing its leaves? First I dropped each plant that had been grown for three months from the height of three inches and calculated the percentage of leaf closure. I did the same thing six more times. Next I blew on each plant seven times and calculated the percentage of habituation (closure). After that I hovered the odor of vinegar and then lemongrass oil near the plant. I found that blowing on caused the plants to habituate quicker than any of the other stimuli.  

Sticky Situations

Colleen W, Reyana S

            Run out of glue? You can substitute it with something environmentally friendly that is often closer and cheaper for you. Don’t believe me? We tested this by applying the latex adhesive that is inside milkweed and glue (separately and in different temperatures) on half of each popsicle stick. We then placed the latex side on a hard surface, and put grams of pennies on the other end until it broke. Our concluding question was “How does the temperature of the latex in Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed): 3 degrees Celsius, 25 degrees Celsius, and 37 degrees Celsius, affect its strength or ability to perform as any adhesive?” We found that room temperature latex can hold more weight than room temperature Elmer’s glue, on average.    

Successful Shorelines for Salt Sequestration

David M

Did you know that 22 million tons of road salt are used each year in the USA? This road salt harms our natural bodies of water. This is a problem especially in Minnesota, where 50 bodies of water have an amount of salt that is over the acceptable level. I was interested in knowing how different types of shoreline (sand, grass and topsoil, or natural shoreline) affect the salt concentration of water? I created 3 types of columns to simulate the effects of different types of shoreline on removing salt from water. I measured salt concentrations with conductivity. Columns with rock and sand had a 29% decrease in salt. Yard sample columns had a 35.6% decrease, and lake shoreline columns had a 43.9% decrease.

Super Milkweed!

Grace S

What makes milkweed super? In my experiment I wanted to find how the height, number of umbels, flowers, and pods on a common milkweed plant affected how many seeds it could produce. The overall goal was to find total seed production for each plant with 1-3, 4-6, and 7+ umbels. My second question was, what characteristics contribute to a super milkweed plant with the greatest number of seeds? First, I randomly selected and tagged milkweed plants with 0, 1-3, 4-6, and 7+ umbels and recorded the height and location of each. Next, I collected umbels and counted the number of flowers, and later collected pods and counted the number of seeds. I found that more umbels equals fewer flowers which makes more pods and seeds.

What's The Buzz?

Brendan Q, Will Z

Did you know bees work harder than humans? Our question was “How does the presence of annuals (zinnias) vs. perennials (cone flowers) and varying color of flowers (white, yellow, pink) affect the number of visits a bee makes to each flower?” We captured 16 bees each day for 8 days and placed them in a tent with the flowers. We counted how many times the bees landed on each flower. We counted landings two times a day for 20 minutes. The result was that they preferred the white perennial (208 landings) and the pink annual (89 landings). Our research also indicated that bees prefer perennials (296 landings) over annuals (141 landings) and preferred the white perennial over any other flower.

Which Makes Sense?

Jeremy S, Joey R

     Can insects prioritize their senses? In our experiment, we wanted to discover how insects use their senses to identify a larger quantity of food compared to a smaller quantity in their ecosystem. To answer this, we set up a bin and placed an insect inside with two different sized piles of food. We watched the piles to see how many times the insect landed on each pile over three minutes. We then found ways to confuse the insect’s senses of sight and smell by hiding or covering the food.  We observed three insects of five different species, each three times to ensure our results were accurate. The Monarch butterfly determined quantity the best and most species used their sense of smell.

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