Field Activities & Protocols
The Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program (IMMP) is designed to monitor various indicators of monarch population health and habitat quality and availability. Its results will inform monarch population habitat targets, help scientists understand the threats monarchs face, and inform habitat enhancement strategies. The material in this protocol is rigorous; attending an IMMP training session prior to implementing this protocol is recommended.
The IMMP protocol is divided into several activities described below. Participants can choose which activities to do at a monitoring site, but they are meant to be conducted at the same site on a routine basis. Monitoring coordinators will help you select a site; you may either choose a high-priority site that will provide weighted data, or choose a site of your own.
These protocols are still a work in progress. Before downloading these materials, please let us know by filling out this quick form so we can send you protocol updates if they change!
In order to participate in any of the activities, participants must first describe their monitoring plot. This includes noting disturbances at the site, vegetation composition, and other characteristics.
Activity 1 is designed to assess monarch habitat at a site. Participants count the number of milkweed host plants and assess the relative abundance of blooming plants that provide nectar for adult monarchs. Activities 1 and 2 may be combined if desired. Estimated Time to Conduct Survey: 2-4 hours. Recommended Frequency: Monthly.
In Activity 2, participants monitor milkweed plants in their monitoring plot for monarch eggs and larvae. Estimated Time to Conduct Survey: 1-2 hours. Recommneded Frequency: Weekly.
Activity 3 documents adult monarch presence and behavior. Participants conduct a Modified Pollard Walk to count the number of adult monarchs present at their monitoring plot. While doing this, volunteers will also record behavior of monarchs observed. Estimated Time to Conduct Survey: 30 min. Recommended Frequency: Every other week.
Activity 4 is designed to assess local sources and rates of monarch parasitism through collection of monarch larvae that are reared and their fate reported. Important note: public lands often require a scientific collector’s permit to collect live organisms, so this activity cannot be conducted until necessary permits are secured. Estimated Time to Conduct Survey: 30-60 min. Recommended Frequency: Daily while larvae are developing.
The appendix includes information regarding program goals and objectives, monarch identification, tips for gaining land access permission, and more.
Participants submit their data electronically to the MJV. Volunteers are taught how to do this and provided an online account during the training workshop. Those who wish to submit data but did not attend a workshop should contact us at email@example.com so we may provide you with access to our data submission program.
Monitoring coordinators will typically help volunteers select sites and delineate monitoring plots. However, those who wish to do so on their own may follow directions here.
Explore priority monarch monitoring areas (randomized 10x10 km 'Monarch Blocks') designed to guide national monitoring efforts. Contact us about your interest in surveying within any of these blocks.