Jaret Daniels, Ph.D. is an insect ecologist working on the conservation of at-risk butterflies and native insect pollinators at the Florida Museum of Natural History. As such, he has built a robust research and outreach program targeting both individual organism conservation/recovery and best management practices for conservation lands, suburban/urban lands, agricultural lands, and rights-of-way. The MJV is excited to welcome this program to our partnership!
“The Museum has a strong commitment to biodiversity conservation. As such, we are extremely excited to part of the MJV’s national efforts to help protect the monarch migration” stated Jaret Daniels.
The Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida is one of the top three university-based natural history museums in the nation with active collecting, research and teaching programs. Housing over 40 million specimens and artifacts, the Museum manages some of the most comprehensive and widely utilized collections in the world and is a leading authority on biodiversity. They work closely with other departments and units throughout the University of Florida system and with a myriad of partner institutions around the world. Additionally, they are leading the way as the national hub (funded by the National Science Foundation) for the digitization of bio-collections. The Museum and the University of Florida have a strong commitment to sound academic research and improving public understanding of science. The Museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera is the largest global center in terms of the scientific study of Lepidoptera, their role in evolution and biodiversity, ecosystem services, biogeography, and economic impact. They additionally house one of the world’s largest and fastest growing Lepidoptera research collections.
Currently, monarch research and outreach initiatives spearheaded by Dr. Daniels include:
- Public Outreach. A partnership with the US Forest Service and others is in place to develop a series of informational brochures for each Forest Service region. These highlight monarchs and emphasize six species of native milkweed for that region; they also identify the larvae of several local butterfly species and their host plants to emphasize the importance of host plant relations to species.
- Native milkweed seed availability. In partnership with the Florida Association of Native Nurseries and the Florida Wildflower Foundation, the Museum is working to increase the availability of native ecotype seed for growers. Currently Asclepias curassavica is the most common commercially available milkweed in the SE and since it poses some potential threats to the monarch, they are trying to increase the availability of native milkweeds so the general public has and can reliably find alternatives.
- Roadside habitat. Working the Florida DOT, the Museum is developing best management practices for pollinator conservation/habitat and is also conducting roadside surveys in the north-central part of the state to identify high density stands of native milkweed (A. humistrata and A. tuberosa). In addition to working with the state DOT to adjust mowing frequencies, they plan to use these high density stands to monitor seed set, monarch use and as potential seed sources.
- Pesticide research. Research on the impacts of several systemic insecticides typically used in commercial production of A. curassavica is being conducted in regard to monarch larval mortality. Results from this study can help to determine potential risk to monarchs and develop best nursery practices to mitigate those risks and inform consumers.
“With the MJV’s foundation in science, we’re eager to bring the Museum on board. They will be a great addition to the MJV” says MJV coordinator, Wendy Caldwell.
To learn more about the Museum’s efforts, visit the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity here.
The Monarch Joint Venture is a national partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs working together to conserve the monarch butterfly migration. The content in this article does not necessarily reflect the positions of all Monarch Joint Venture partners. Header photo by Ilse Gebhard.