Partnering to conserve the monarch butterfly migration

Monarch Conservation Science Partnership Integrated Monitoring Strategy

What is the Monarch Conservation Science Partnership?

The Monarch Conservation Science Partnership (MCSP) is a group of scientists and conservation professionals from government, academia and NGOs.  They have been working together since 2009 to:

  1. model monarch population trends and assess the impact of threats,
  2. establish population targets and habitat goals, and
  3. develop conservation tools to guide conservation decision-making.

Monarch Monitoring

Monarchs have been the focus of a rich array of citizen science and other monitoring programs for decades. Together, these monitoring programs offer a collective portrait of monarch biology and population health and have made significant contributions to monarch science (Ries & Oberhauser, 2015). However, with the dramatic decline of the monarch population in recent years, more monitoring data are needed for two reasons.

  1. Spatially representative data are needed to improve models so conservation efforts can use the limited resources available to have the most possible impact.  People frequently monitor high quality habitat where they are likely to encounter monarchs, making extrapolating information across the U.S. landscape difficult since high quality habitat is not present everywhere. 
  2. As conservation actions take place over time, ongoing monitoring can help determine if these actions are having the desired outcomes.

The Integrated Monitoring Strategy is a way to address these challenges, and your participation is needed!  

What is the Integrated Monitoring Strategy?

The Integrated Monitoring Strategy is a program to monitor key monarch and habitat characteristics using spatially balanced sites across the monarch’s U.S. range. Your results will inform Eastern monarch population habitat targets, help scientists understand the threats monarchs face during the breeding season, and help to create strategies for implementing habitat enhancement. Combined with habitat management records over time, these data could also be used to assess the effectiveness of local conservation projects for monarchs.

The Integrated Monitoring Strategy consists of four activities:

  1. monitor adult monarchs and identify preferred adult nectar plants
  2. estimate milkweed species diversity and density, per plant density of monarch eggs and caterpillars, and relative abundance of blooming nectar plants
  3. estimate monarch survival to adulthood by raising collected monarchs
  4. estimate abundance and biomass of fire ants (where geographically appropriate)

Register for a free training in Minnesota, Michigan or Wisconsin this summer to learn how to monitor! Register

Instructions for monitoring in different land types (protected grasslands, unprotected grasslands, CRP lands, cultivated land, right of way habitats, urban/suburban spaces) are provided.  

Your monitoring coordinator will provide a list of priority (public) sites near you. Priority sites are where monitoring is most needed, however, you may also monitor a site of your own choice.  You can also choose which activities to do. While doing all activities is encouraged, it is not required!

This is the second year of the project, and your contributions this year will help the MCSP to implement and improve the project in the future.

With help from people like you across the U.S., we will be able to address important gaps in our knowledge about monarchs and their habitat!

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