Parasitized Monarch
Rearing healthy monarchs: how to keep parasites away, identify signs of infection and troubleshoot mortality

On October 1st, 2014, a one-day online workshop/webinar on Monarch Health and Disease was held, featuring scientists Dr. Sonia Altizer and Dr. Jaap de Roode. 

Rearing healthy monarchs: how to keep parasites away, identify signs of infection and troubleshoot mortality

A brief description:  Captive rearing of animals in closed quarters and in high density situations can set the stage for the spread of harmful parasites and diseases.  Monarchs and other butterflies are popular animals for nature enthusiasts and professional growers to rear for educational and other purposes.  Problems with mortality and infectious diseases have surfaced in a variety of captive rearing settings.  

This workshop focused on best practices for rearing monarchs to limit the spread of unwanted infections, with a related goal of limiting the distribution of infected butterflies into wild populations. Topics included identifying signs of infection, mechanisms of pathogen transmission, sterile practices to limit disease problems, common causes of mortality when rearing, and how to handle outbreak situations. This workshop mainly focused on the protozoan Ophryocystis (O.e.) but also included general tips and experiences with non-OE mortality.

The webinar was recorded, and is made available here in three video formats: MOV, AVI and MP4. It is hoped that most people will be play at least one of these.

A couple of things to note:

1. Assuming that the file type is supported, you should be able to play the above links directly in your browser. However,you may not get any “play” controls. Also, while some browsers start playing straight away, others may insist on downloading the entire movie file first. These are all fairly large files, so this can take a while! Some people might find it easier to download the movie to their PC and play it using their media player of choice.

2. For the first 40 seconds or so, the presentation is voice-only and the screen is black. The remainder of the presentation includes pictures.

Sonia Altizer, Ph.D., is a Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. She received her B.S. in biology from Duke University in 1992, and completed her Ph.D. in ecology at the University of Minnesota in 1998 with Dr. Karen Oberhauser, followed by postdoctoral work at Princeton and Cornell University. Dr. Altizer has been at the University of Georgia since 2005. Her research interests center on infectious disease ecology and its interface with animal behavior, anthropogenic change, and evolution. Since 1993, Altizer has studied interactions between monarch butterflies and a protozoan parasite to better the consequences of long-distance migration for animal-pathogen interactions, and host-pathogen evolution. She has co-authored over 30 published articles on monarch ecology and monarch-parasite interactions, and currently runs the citizen science project Monarch Health through the University of Georgia.

Jacobus de Roode, Ph.D. completed his PhD in Evolution and Ecology at the University of Edinburgh (2005) and is currently Associate Professor of Biology at Emory University. Prior to joining the faculty at Emory in 2008, De Roode held postdoctoral positions at Emory University and the University of Georgia, during which he started working on monarch butterfly parasites with Sonia Altizer. De Roode’s primary research focus is the ecology and evolution of host-parasite interactions, including the study of self-medication in monarch butterflies, virulence evolution in honeybee parasites and drug resistance in human malaria. 

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