Non-negligible near-term risk of extinction to the eastern migratory population of monarch butterflies—An updated assessment (2006–22)
The eastern migratory population of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) started declining as early as the mid-1970s and seemed to stop declining by the early 2000s; the population now (about 2022) persists at a much-reduced abundance. Stochastic variation in abundance, at levels typical of monarch butterflies and other insects, was assessed to determine whether this population is at heightened risk of quasi-extinction, a level of abundance below which recovery of the migratory behavior is uncertain. Using previously published Bayesian state-space modeling methods it was determined roughly equivalent risk of quasi-extinction as was reported in 2016 for the species (28.7 percent [1.9–81.0 credible interval] and 52.0 percent [3.2–97.7 credible interval] at the 10- and 20-year marks, respectively). Though highly uncertain, the risk is non-negligibly positive. Warning signal analysis indicates the current dynamic is dominated by stochastic variation, which seems to be heightening risk with the passage of time. Increasing breeding opportunities through restoration of milkweed in its northern breeding locations seems to be the most promising means of mitigating extinction risk for this species.
|Non-negligible near-term risk of extinction to the eastern migratory population of monarch butterflies—An updated assessment (2006–22)
|Wayne E. Thogmartin
|USGS Numbered Series
|USGS Publications Warehouse
|Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center