Monarch Conservation Science Partnership

Science Center Objects

The Monarch Conservation Science Partnership is a USGS led group of scientists, managers, and conservation organizations who perform science related to the conservation of monarch butterflies. We come from federal agencies, non profits, and academia and from the three countries where monarchs range (Mexico, Canada, and the United States). To date meetings of the MCSP have been hosted by the USGS John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis in Ft. Collins, CO. PIs include Darius Semmens and Jay Diffendorfer (GECSC) and Wayne Thogmartin (UMESC).

Are we witnessing the end of the migration of monarchs in the eastern U.S.?
What is the issue?

The Eastern, migratory population of monarch butterflies has declined by ~80% over the last decade, despite efforts in Mexico to end illegal logging in the fir forests used by overwintering monarchs. These declines are coincident with the rapid adoption of glyphosate-resistant crops on agricultural lands of the north central U.S.

What are the challenges?

The monarch’s multi-generational migration between overwintering grounds in central Mexico and summer breeding grounds in northern U.S. and southern Canada creates shared management responsibilities across North America.

No national-level monitoring and insufficient basic ecological research (e.g., few habitat-specific estimates of milkweed density) lead to key gaps in our understanding of monarch life history and ecology.

Threats are numerous, including herbicide and pesticide application, loss of natural and conserved areas, and disruption from climate change and consequences of extreme weather, leading to ‘death by a thousand cuts’.

Strategies for mitigating threats are weakly defined.

The Partnership is engaged in considerable research to address information gaps associated with the ecology and conservation of monarch butterflies. Among these efforts include analyses of extinction risk, continental-scale full-annual-cycle demography, threats assessment, overwinter density estimation, milkweed target estimation, and storylines for conservation recovery. Strategies for sampling monarchs and the milkweed that sustains them are being developed. In addition, geospatial tools, both desktop and online, for aiding in conservation planning have been completed.

Decline in the eastern migratory monarch butterfly population as surveyed by the World Wildlife Fund-Mexico

Decline in the eastern migratory monarch butterfly population as surveyed by the World Wildlife Fund-Mexico.Populations in the high-elevation Oyamel fir forests where eastern monarchs overwinter are indexed by the area over which they occur.Semmens et al. (2016) provided an adjusted measurement of population size which corrects for observation error.(Public domain.)

 

Monarch Conservation Science Partnership

(Public domain.)