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Monarchs and Milkweed

Energy Cycles in the Biological World



Co Authors:

Christine H. Terry
Department of Biology
University of Lynchburg
terry.c@lynchburg.edu

Erin J. Friedman
Department of Biology
University of Lynchburg
friedman.e@lynchburg.edu

Abstract:

This interrupted case study was written to help students understand the interplay and relatedness of metabolism in producers and consumers. The storyline is based on a conversation between two students who are home from college for a long weekend. While visiting a park in Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan, they happen to notice swarms of monarch butterflies in and around the milkweed plants. This leads them to think about how the monarchs acquire the energy needed to make the journey from Canada or Northern United States to Mexico. In addition to exploring the transfer of energy from milkweed to monarch, they also start to think about why the milkweed undergoes photosynthesis and how sugars, other than glucose, are metabolized. The case is designed for undergraduate students taking an introductory biology course, but could also be used by high school students in an advanced placement biology course.

Objectives:
  • Recognize the importance of energy flow and chemical recycling in ecosystems.
  • Apply their understanding of photosynthesis, cellular respiration and metabolic pools to a real world predator-prey (e.g., plant-insect) interaction.
  • Elaborate on the connections between metabolic pathways at the cellular and organismal levels.
  • Practice written communication of their ideas, and subsequently their peer review skills.
Keywords: Monarch; milkweed; cellular respiration; photosynthesis; metabolic pools; energy cycles
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Discussion, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Biochemistry   Botany / Plant Science   Ecology   Science (General)  
Date Posted: 6/27/2019
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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