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The butterfly clock : illuminating the molecular mysteries of monarch migration

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dc.contributor.advisor Marcia Bartusiak. en_US Rice, Jocelyn en_US
dc.contributor.other Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Graduate Program in Science Writing. en_US 2008-09-03T14:43:45Z 2008-09-03T14:43:45Z 2007 en_US 2007 en_US
dc.description Thesis (S.M. in Science Writing)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Humanities, Graduate Program in Science Writing, 2007. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (leaf 45). en_US
dc.description.abstract Each fall, the entire monarch butterfly population of the Eastern United States and Canada funnels into a handful of oyamel pine groves in Michoacan, Mexico, to weather the winter months. Each spring, the butterflies mate and fly north to repopulate the continent in short generational bursts. The monarchs flying south in the fall are three generations removed from those that made the trip the previous year. With no parents to guide its way, a migrating monarch has only its genes to steer it to its Mexican overwintering site. Monarchs orient using the sun as a guidepost. Because the sun appears to move across the sky throughout the day, the butterflies must keep track of time in order to correctly interpret the sun's position. Although this so-called "time-compensated sun compass" was demonstrated in 1997, little was known about how it worked. Steven Reppert, a neurobiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA, is working to change that. His lab seeks to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms monarchs use to guide them on their remarkable yearly journey. Reppert and his colleagues believe they have pinpointed the sun compass, and the circadian clock that guides it, in the monarch brain. They have shown how the clock and compass might work together to allow the monarchs to find their way to Mexico. Their work has also uncovered some unexpected insights into the workings and evolution of circadian clocks in general. This thesis profiles these discoveries, exploring how circadian biology has illuminated monarch migration, and how monarchs, in turn, have illuminated circadian biology. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by Jocelyn Rice. en_US
dc.format.extent 45 leaves en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.rights.uri en_US
dc.subject Graduate Program in Science Writing. en_US
dc.title The butterfly clock : illuminating the molecular mysteries of monarch migration en_US
dc.title.alternative Illuminating the molecular mysteries of monarch migration en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US Science Writing en_US
dc.contributor.department Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Graduate Program in Science Writing. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 228414885 en_US

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