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Monarchs and Milkweed

Energy Cycles in the Biological World


Author(s)

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 Areas

N/A

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Discussion, Interrupted

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Biochemistry  |   Botany / Plant Science  |   Ecology  |   Science (General)  |  


Date Posted

6/27/2019

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