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2023 DeWind Awards Support Research into Pollinator Corridors and the Impacts of Fire Ants on Monarch Butterflies

By Candace Fallon on 25. April 2023
Candace Fallon

Every year, the Xerces Society gives out at least two DeWind Awards to students pursuing research into Lepidoptera conservation. Established by Bill DeWind in honor of his wife Joan, these awards help support the next wave of butterfly and moth conservationists. This year, we are excited to announce our winners: Katie McManus and Remy Sutherland.


Katie McManus

McManus, a PhD student at Temple University in Pennsylvania, is investigating how different land uses and intensities affect butterfly population connectivity and genetic structure. 


Katie mcManus smiling and posing by a butterfly on a flower
Katie McManus is studying butterflies and their relation to land use. (Photo by Vu Nguyen, courtesy of McManus.)


In particular, her research asks: how is population connectivity hindered by human land use? And what does this mean for the future of butterflies in fragmented landscapes? McManus’ research will not only help us answer these questions, but provide important information to help inform management strategies for butterflies and other pollinators.


great spangled fritillary butterfly on milkweed flowers
McManus' research will provide insight on study organisms like the great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele). (Photo: John Flannery, Flickr.)


Remy Sutherland

Sutherland, a master’s student at Oregon State University, is focusing his research on the impacts of invasive ant species (particularly fire ants) on first-generation monarch butterfly reproductive success. Eastern monarch populations have declined dramatically in the last two decades, and decreased survival of eggs and larvae may be contributing to these trends.


Remy Sutherland with monarch caterpillar on finger
Remy Sutherland is investigating the impacts of invasive ants on monarch butterflies. (Photo courtesy of Sutherland.) 


Working in a coastal prairie in southeast Texas, where first-generation monarchs can be found following the overwintering season, Sutherland will use field surveys and Bayesian models to evaluate the effects of environmental characteristics, management practices, and arthropod community dynamics on oviposition (egg-laying) preferences and larval survival. This research could shed light on how invasive ant species might be impacting monarch reproductive success early in the season, with potential implications for land management strategies.


Magnified view of first-instar monarch caterpillars on milkweed leaves
Are first-instar monarch caterpillars, like these two on butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), vulnerable to fire ants? Sutherland intends to learn more. (Photo courtesy of Sutherland.) 


More Information


Candace is a senior conservation biologist with the Xerces Society, where she works with researchers, land managers, and community scientists to study and protect at-risk invertebrates and their habitats. She has extensive experience with species inventories and monitoring, providing technical guidance to land managers, developing and managing community science projects, and conducting outreach. Much of her work has focused on conserving imperiled butterflies, beetles, mollusks, and aquatic macroinvertebrates on federal lands in the western U.S.

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