A citizen science project between the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, the University of Arkansas and YOU!
Butterflies, birds, flowers and a wide variety of animals and plants come in a spectacular range of colors and shapes. One of the main goals of biology is understanding why this variation exists, and how changes in color and shape influence behavior, such as feeding, resting and predator avoidance.
The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks has teamed up with University of Arkansas professor Dr. Erica Westerman and the Northwest Arkansas community to study whether butterfly wing pattern (color & size) can be used to predict butterfly behavior; particularly what flowers they visit, what time of day they are active and what weather conditions they fly in. Dr. Westerman has deployed temperature and light sensors around the gardens, and we have compiled a checklist of butterfly wing patterns and behaviors.
Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to pick up one of these checklists from the BGO Visitors Center and then keep your eyes out for butterflies as you travel through the garden. Every time you see a butterfly, check its color and size and what it’s doing (feeding, flying, sitting). If it’s feeding or sitting, please also note the color of the flower it is feeding or sitting on. If you happen to know the species of butterfly, go ahead and write that down too!
The data you collect will be compiled with that of other garden visitors and UARK researchers. Your data will help scientists address questions concerning animal behavior, diversity, and NWA pollinator community health.
For more information or to learn more about Dr. Westerman’s research, visit her website.