Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Challenges creating monarch butterfly management strategies for electric power companies in the United States

April 29, 2024

Returning monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) to sustainable levels of abundance will require an array of contributors to protect and restore habitat over broad areas. Due to the diversity and scale of land managed by electric power companies across the monarch range, plus an additional 32 million hectares needed for new solar arrays by 2050 to meet renewable energy goals, the industry may have potential to contribute to monarch conservation. However, it is challenging to clearly understand an individual company’s potential for monarch conservation because of the scale and distribution of their specific land assets (ranging from 4,800 to 240,000 hectares in this study alone), the complexity of monarch science, and the lack of a science-based approach for evaluating large land assets for monarch habitat. With monarchs potentially being protected under the United States Endangered Species Act in the future and thereby limiting land management approaches, there is interest from electric power companies to understand how their lands relate to monarchs. In collaboration with companies, we developed a GIS-based model to identify company landholdings that contain high-quality monarch habitat and applied the model to specific landholdings of eight power companies in the United States. We then facilitated discussions with company teams to balance conservation goals, corporate risk, and social opinion. This paper describes non-confidential results for developing a national GIS-based monarch habitat model and applying it to electric power companies who are considering monarch conservation while simultaneously transitioning to a new clean energy future. The model and applied experience may be useful for other organizations working across large landscapes to manage monarchs.

Publication Year 2024
Title Challenges creating monarch butterfly management strategies for electric power companies in the United States
DOI 10.3389/fevo.2024.1360325
Authors Jessica Fox, Kasey Allen, James E. Diffendorfer, Laura Lukens, Wayne E. Thogmartin, Christian Newman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Index ID 70254291
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center; Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center