Insects rely on plants for survival. Desert Botanical Garden seeks to understand how native plants support local butterfly populations. To increase impact, the Garden combines research with native propagation and outreach efforts, under the umbrella of Great Milkweed Grow Out.
Meet the Team
Kim Pegram, Ph.D.
Program Director, Pollinator Conservation and Research
I manage pollinator and butterfly conservation initiatives and research at the Garden. The Garden’s primary pollinator initiative, Great Milkweed Grow Out, helps conserve monarch butterflies and other pollinators in Arizona by propagating and distributing thousands of native milkweeds, outreach into the community and researching how insects interact with milkweed. My current research seeks to determine 1) which native milkweeds are best for monarch conservation, 2) how milkweeds support other beneficial insects and 3) butterfly-hostplant ecology in other species. My PhD research focused on warning coloration, understanding how iridescent blue can function to warn predators, with pipevine swallowtail butterflies as a model.
Pegram, K.V., Melkonoff, N.A. 2019. Assessing preference and survival of Danaus plexippus on two western species of Asclepias. Journal of Insect Conservation. 1-9.
Pegram, K.V., Rutowski, R.L. 2016. Effects of directionality, signal intensity, and short-wavelength components on iridescent warning signal efficacy. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 70, 1331.
Pegram, K.V., Han, H.A., Rutowski, R.L. 2015. Warning signal efficacy: assessing the effects of color, iridescence and time of day in the field. 121, 1-13.
Pegram, K.V., Rutowski, R.L. 2014. Relative effectiveness of blue and orange warning colours in contexts of innate avoidance, learning and generalisation. Animal Behaviour. 92, 1-8.
Pegram, K.V., Nahm, A.C., Rutowski, R.L. 2013. Warning color changes in response to food deprivation in the pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor). Journal of Insect Science. 13, 110
Rajyaguru, P.K., Pegram, K.V., Kingston, A.C.N., Rutowski, R.L. 2013. Male wing color properties predict material benefits received during mating in the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor). 100, 507-513.
Pegram, K.V., Lillo, M.J., Rutowski, R.L. 2013. Iridescent blue and orange elements contribute to the recognition of a multicomponent warning signal. 150, 321-336.
Pegram, K.V., Han, H.A., Rutowski, R.L. 2012. Overnight perching aggregations of the aposematic Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor; Lepidoptera: Papilionidae): implications for predation risk and warning signal use. Journal of Research on Lepidoptera. 45, 9-16.
Ph.D. Arizona State University, 2015
PhD. Biology, Arizona State University/Desert Botanical Garden (In progress)
Melkonoff’s work is focused on the interactions between plants and animals and how the physiological processes of both impact their interdependence on one another and their ability to thrive under different environmental stressors. She is currently working on her Ph.D. with a focus on the interactions between milkweed, monarch butterflies and pollinators in the Sonoran Desert. She also coordinates Desert Botanical Garden’s monarch and pollinator conservation initiative, Great Milkweed Grow Out.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 480.941.3516
Ph.D. University of Arizona/Desert Botanical Garden (In progress)