National valuation of monarch butterflies indicates an untapped potential for incentive-based conservation
The annual migration of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) has high cultural value and recent surveys indicate monarch populations are declining. Protecting migratory species is complex because they cross international borders and depend on multiple regions.
Understanding how much, and where, humans place value on migratory species can facilitate market-based conservation approaches.
The annual migration to Mexico of millions of orange-and-black monarch butterflies is one of the nation’s cherished rituals. But it could come to a virtual halt if the insect’s natural habitat is not urgently salvaged.
That is the conclusion of a long list of scientists, artists and environmentalists who are calling on the leaders of Mexico, the United States and Canada to act swiftly to protect butterfly breeding grounds.
Hoping to focus attention on the plight of the monarch butterfly at a North American summit meeting next week, a group of prominent scientists and writers urged the leaders of Mexico, the United States and Canada to commit to restoring the habitat that supports the insect’s extraordinary migration across the continent.
Calling the situation facing the butterfly “grim,” the group issued a letter that outlined a proposal to plant milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food source, along its migratory route in Canada and the United States.
A Letter for President Enrique Pena Nieto, President Barack Obama, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Among the countless organisms that have evolved during the history of life on earth, monarch butterflies are among the most extraordinary.
Sadly, their unique multigenerational migration across our large continent, their spectacular overwintering aggregations on the volcanic mountains in central Mexico, and their educational value to children in Canada, the United States, and Mexico are all threatened. Monitoring of the butterfly population over the past two decades indicates a grim situation.
Renowned NASA climate scientist Dr. Jim Hansen often opens his public lectures with a discussion of the monarch butterfly migration. He has helped his grandchildren raise milkweed on their farm and for years they have followed the life cycle of monarchs through to fall migration.
The Hansen youth have also been involved as “citizen scientists” participating in tagging the migrating monarchs.
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Number of Monarch butterflies overwintering in California holds steady, but still well below the 1990s
Data released today show that more monarch butterflies were counted at overwintering sites in California this year compared to last year. While this is welcome news, the number of butterflies is still well below peak numbers from the 1990s. Volunteers with the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count visited 162 sites in coastal California and tallied a […]
Monarchs and Milkweeds in Farmscapes: Making Safe Havens through Planting Conservation Strips in Highly Diverse, Low Input Fields, Orchards and Pastures
It is likely that at least 170,000,000 acres of actively-sown annual field crops in American farmscapes are now depleted of their formerly-abundant milkweeds and monarch butterflies.