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Student Activity - Establishing butterfly transects

In this activity, students set up and walk a transect to observe and record butterfly sightings. Butterfly sightings are then recorded on the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust website.

Modify this activity to suit to your management needs. If parent help is available, the entire class can set up and monitor several transects. Alternatively, set up a single transect with an envirogroup or other small group of interested students.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • know what a transect is and why they are used for ecological monitoring
  • appreciate the importance of systematic observation (the act of noting and recording something) rather than merely looking
  • understand that collection of data over a number of years provides scientists with information about a species’ population size and provides information on population decline or increase
  • appreciate that citizen scientists work in partnership with scientists to answer interesting and relevant questions.

Download the Word file (see link above) for:

  • introduction/background notes
  • instructions on what you need and what to do
  • discussion questions
  • student handout.
Nature of Science

Scientific investigations involve the collection of relevant data in a systematic manner according to clear protocols. In this activity, the transect data is used to answer questions about yearly population assessments and habitat management.

Useful links

Read about one teacher’s experience of walking transects and tagging butterflies for the NZMBT.
www.edgazette.govt.nz/Articles/Article.aspx?ArticleId=7852external link

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