Conserving More than Monarchs

Conserving More than Monarchs

Creating habitat for monarchs is one of the most important actions we can take to help stabilize their numbers. From sprawling prairies to backyard gardens, projects scattered across the landscape provide a network of crucial habitat for monarchs. Fortunately, the habitat that monarchs use provides benefits to other species, including humans!

Benefits to other wildlife

Diverse monarch habitat supports a wide range of wildlife. Because pollinator habitat overlaps with that of other animals, its conservation allows us to protect multiple species at once. Here we share a few examples.

Hunters know that quality habitat is essential for wild game species, like pheasants and quail. These upland birds have their own habitat requirements, like nesting, winter, and brood rearing cover. High quality grassland and prairie habitat containing milkweed and nectar plants meets these requirements, and provides bare ground for upland bird chicks to move across their range in search of food.

Diverse plant communities attract pollinators, like bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. This increase in insect diversity in monarch habitat not only increases the resilience of the ecosystem, but it also results in higher food availability for other wildlife.

Grasslands also provide vital nesting grounds for songbirds, waterfowl, and insects. Like the monarch, grassland songbirds have been in rapid decline due to habitat loss. Milkweed and nectar plants in grassland environments serve non-game birds by providing ample food, protection from predators, and space for building their nests. Because these species build their nests on the ground rather than in trees, grasses provide structure and cover for their young. Waterfowl, like the blue-winged teal, depend on grasslands for breeding and stopover habitat during their spring and fall migrations.

Benefits to humans

Monarch habitat provides a broad range of environmental and economic benefits from storm-water mitigation to improved pollination services.

Native monarch and pollinator plants have deep roots and improve water quality by preventing erosion and improving filtration. Additionally, the increased transfer of pollen among plants by pollinators enhances plant growth, thereby helping clean the air, improve soil health, and sequester carbon.

The presence of pollinators is integral to our food system. Without pollinators like bees and butterflies, who pollinate our food, our diets would be severely limited. Pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat! Their absence would result in a decrease in security and stability of natural ecosystems and our food sources.

Creating green spaces in urban areas has remarkable benefits to overall human health and well-being as well as engagement with nature. Green spaces are often cooler than the asphalt and bare soil plots typically found in urban areas during hot summer months. This habitat also introduces opportunities for social interaction, physical activity, and environmental education. Increasing accessibility to these natural areas encourages the development of environmental stewardship among young people.

Monarch habitat adds beauty to any setting with its vibrant displays of flowers and by attracting insects, birds, and other wildlife. These beautiful environments provide ample benefits and opportunities for humans and wildlife alike.

Increasing accessibility to these natural areas encourages the development of environmental stewardship among young people.

Monarch habitat adds beauty to any setting with its vibrant displays of flowers and by attracting insects, birds, and other wildlife. These beautiful environments provide ample benefits and opportunities for humans and wildlife alike.

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