JourneyNorth is a citizen science initiative aimed at introducing us to the dynamic systems of migration of millions of animals each year. Migration is the translocation of a group of organisms, typically cyclical, and with respect to annual patterns. Because of annual migrations, many species of animals are a rarity only enjoyed seasonally in many locales. Documenting the migration pattens of these species and keeping tabs on the individuals as they come and go invites people from all backgrounds to take part in the fascinating journey that is science.
The Monarch Butterfly is one of the best known migratory species. With its iconic black and orange wings, it takes flight in our imagination as we learn about its migration habits as well as its life cycle through the resources available on the JourneyNorth site. The importance of pollinators such as the Monarch Butterfly cannot be overstated, with butterflies and bees playing roles in the over 80% of global food production which relies on wild animals for pollination.
The health and vitality of pollinators, many of which belong to migratory species, is therefore something we all need to consider. Threats such as habitat destruction, irresponsible and harmful insecticide mismanagement, and desertification impact populations of pollinators, and the effect of this are felt both up and down the for web. Species which prey on pollinators also play key roles in ecosystems, and rely on these species as a source of food. The disruption to these species' life cycles affects entire ecosystems and threatens the well-being of the environment on both a national and global level. If the butterfly effect posits that the flap of one Monarch could lead to a hurricane on the other side of the world, imagine what a lack of butterflies flapping their winds could mean - figuratively speaking.
JourneyNorth recognizes the importance of these migratory species, and seeks to educate the public about the roles that these species of plants and animals play, as well as helps students and people of all ages get involved with citizen science to help tackle the ever-important task of cataloguing them for research. It is one of the largest Citizen Science programs in North America, and is an excellent opportunity for classes and families to jumpstart their science exploration in a unique and innovative way!