Public Release: 

New articles on butterfly conservation from Oxford Journals

Oxford University Press USA

Seven articles dealing with the conservation of monarch butterflies were published on August 5 in Annals of the Entomological Society of America. Along with this collection, there is a new paper from American Entomologist on the conservation of Karner blue butterflies (Lycaeides melissa samuelis), an endangered species with a one-inch wingspan, which are the focus of a cutting-edge recovery program in Wisconsin that has become a model for other recovery plans for imperiled species.

As AESA editor-in-chief Lawrence E. Hurd, Ph.D., said of the collection: "This group of papers is intended to give us the latest and best data available on the status of monarch populations and perhaps point the way to our best efforts to protect them."

Below you will find facts from and links to these articles.

Facts from AESA's collection on monarch butterfly conservation:

  • Counts of migration trends in Long Point, Lake Erie, Canada were highly variable over a 20-year period of measurement, but long-term trends show a decline in the number of monarchs.

  • Migrating female monarch butterflies are more likely to make it to Mexico than males, especially when these females migrate early.

  • Survival rates of monarchs have declined from 1997 to 2014.

  • The declines in overwintering numbers of eastern monarchs in Mexico stem more from reduced migratory success than from breeding declines. This signals the need for a shift in priorities for conservation of monarchs (i.e., protecting habitats along the migratory flyway).

  • Based on analyses of 18 years of citizen science observations, authors found that spring-migrating monarchs are being reported significantly later, by a factor of one day later every four years.

  • Monarch populations were measured yearly at three key points rather than just one: the beginning and end of the overwintering period based on colony sizes in Mexico, and the end of the summer-recruitment period in the Northcentral region when the population has grown to its yearly maximum size.

  • Milkweeds are breeding habitats for monarchs, and the declining number of eastern North American monarchs has often been attributed to declining milkweed abundance. The results of this study suggest that monarchs are not compensating for the loss of breeding habitat.

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"Conserving Karner Blue Butterflies in Wisconsin: A Development of Management Techniques" - Additional funding and services have been provided by the United States Fish and Wildlife Federal Recovery Program, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Geography and Geology Department, Michigan Technological University Graduate School, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Resource Assessment Office.

"Investigating Long-Term Changes in the Spring Migration of Monarch Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) Using 18 Years of Data From Journey North, a Citizen Science Program " - Journey North is funded with support from the Annenberg Foundation.

"The Disconnect Between Summer and Winter Monarch Trends for the Eastern Migratory Population: Possible Links to Differing Drivers" - Funding for L.R. was provided by NSF (Award DBI-1147049 and DBI-1052875 to SESYNC). Funding for monitoring in Mexico during the past decade was provided by Telcel, Carlos Slim Foundation, WWF-US, and WWF-Canada.

"Long-term Trends in the Number of Monarch Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) Counted on Fall Migration at Long Point, Ontario, Canada (1995-2014)" - We acknowledge Bird Studies Canada's (BSC) migration monitoring program at LPBO, Endangered Species Recovery Fund, Environment Canada (EC), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF)--Species at Risk Research Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and World Wildlife Fund--Canada for supporting this research. This work was also supported by a National Science and Engineering Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship-B grant to T.L.C., and a Mitacs Accelerate grant to T.L.C., P.D.T., and BSC (D.L.).

"Immature Monarch Survival: Effects of Site Characteristics, Density, and Time" - This work was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF ESI 9731429, ESI-0104600, ISE 0917450) to KSO, two Joan DeWind Awards from the Xerces Society to K.R.N. and Michelle Prysby and NSF graduate research fellowships (00039202) to K.R.N. and C.M.S.

"Habitat Productivity and Temporal Patterns of Monarch Butterfly Egg Densities in the Eastern United States" - C.S. and K.R.N. were supported by National Science Foundation fellowships (BCS-0003920), and Monarch Larva Monitoring Project development and public engagement was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF ESI 9731429, ESI-0104600, ISE 0917450) and two Joan DeWind Awards from the Xerces Society.

"Conserving Karner Blue Butterflies in Wisconsin: A Development of Management Techniques" - Additional funding and services have been provided by the United States Fish and Wildlife Federal Recovery Program, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Geography and Geology Department, Michigan Technological University Graduate School, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Resource Assessment Office.

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