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Old 06-11-2011, 01:22 PM   #1
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butterfly Decline of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico: is the migratory phenomenon at risk?

The Royal Entomological Society
Insect Conservation and Diversity (2011) doi: 10.1111/j.1752-4598.2011.00142.x

Decline of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico: is the migratory phenomenon at risk?


LINCOLN P. BROWER,1 ORLEY R. TAYLOR,2 ERNEST H. WILLIAMS,3 DANIEL A. SLAYBACK,4 RAUL R. ZUBIETA5 and M. ISABEL RAMI´REZ6 1Department of Biology, Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, VA, USA, 2Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KA, USA, 3Department of Biology, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, USA, 4Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Biospheric Sciences Branch, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA, 5Posgrado en Ciencias Biologicas, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Coyoacan, Mexico D.F., Mexico and 6Centro de Investigaciones en Geografia Ambiental, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Antigua Carretera a Patzcuaro, Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico

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Abstract. 1. During the 2009–2010 overwintering season and following a 15-year downward trend, the total area in Mexico occupied by the eastern North American population of overwintering monarch butterflies reached an all-time low. Despite an increase, it remained low in 2010–2011.

2. Although the data set is small, the decline in abundance is statistically significant using both linear and exponential regression models.

3. Three factors appear to have contributed to reduce monarch abundance: degradation of the forest in the overwintering areas; the loss of breeding habitat in the United States due to the expansion of GM herbicide-resistant crops, with consequent loss of milkweed host plants, as well as continued land development; and severe weather.

4. This decline calls into question the long-term survival of the monarchs’ migratory phenomenon.
http://www.saynotogmos.org/ud2011/fp...rower_2011.pdf
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Old 06-27-2011, 09:47 PM   #2
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An alarming, but well documented trend, Cirsium. I wonder... are the members of WG that are interested in butterflies... or species preservation... aware of Monarch Watch. It's a delightful site that offers a host of information as well as seed kits that include several species of milkweed for a nominal fee. Do you think the word is out? If not, can it be?
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Old 06-27-2011, 10:09 PM   #3
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An alarming, but well documented trend, Cirsium. I wonder... are the members of WG that are interested in butterflies... or species preservation... aware of Monarch Watch. It's a delightful site that offers a host of information as well as seed kits that include several species of milkweed for a nominal fee. Do you think the word is out? If not, can it be?
I believe one of our butterfly gurus, Bridget1965 I believe, did post about Monarch Watch, but no harm in mentioning it again and bringing it to the forefront again.

With a name like Asclepias, I'd say you are a huge fan of milkweeds?
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Old 06-27-2011, 10:12 PM   #4
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I stand corrected it was Runmede who posted about it (although it is possible Bridget did to in another thread):

http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/for...tterflies.html
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Old 06-27-2011, 10:46 PM   #5
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You're quick,dapjwy. But the name was chosen for 2 reasons; not for the milkweed, but for the magnificent butterfly whose very survival depends on it. I so vividly recall enjoying watching the Monarchs throughout my summers as a child. My hope is that some day my grandchildren and perhaps their grandchildren too, will be able to enjoy them as well. Though I think that will happen only if enough of us choose to make a small difference... together. I'll tell you the second reason another time.
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Old 06-27-2011, 10:56 PM   #6
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You're quick,dapjwy. But the name was chosen for 2 reasons; not for the milkweed, but for the magnificent butterfly whose very survival depends on it. I so vividly recall enjoying watching the Monarchs throughout my summers as a child. My hope is that some day my grandchildren and perhaps their grandchildren too, will be able to enjoy them as well. Though I think that will happen only if enough of us choose to make a small difference... together. I'll tell you the second reason another time.
That is a noble reason. I'm assuming your love of the monarchs makes you appreciate the milkweeds all the more.

As a kid, I enjoyed watching them too...but it was not until I was an adult--last year, I believe, that I witnessed their caterpillars up close, and although I missed seeing them pupate, I did find two empty chysalises in the yard.

Unfortunately, I seem to have lost two of my butterfly weeds. I originally planted five and lost two the first year. The three out in the field did great for two years, but only one came up and is blooming now... and I added one near the house, last year, that came up again this year, but looks like no flowers this time.

Luckily, I have quite a few seedlings that came up from my winter sowing.

I also have one swamp milkweed and the common milkweed. I've got to get a lot more of them...they all seem lost on our two acres.

...I look forward to hearing the other reason...when you're ready.
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Old 06-27-2011, 11:15 PM   #7
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Don't know how big or what the features of your place are.... that said, if you have a damp area in full sun, I would think that A. incarnata (swamp milkweed) would be fairly reliable. Cats love it and it's a great nectar source.
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:25 AM   #8
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Don't know how big or what the features of your place are...
We have two acres of mostly moist, well drained soil.

I don't have much truly wet areas except right on the property line where there is a drainage ditch for road run off. I do plan to put in a water feature, but, as many here can attest, it is a long time coming. (...and I bet havalotta will chime in here)

I'd love to show you what I'm working with...I did have several albums which no longer seem to be working. Here is a link that did show a rough idea of what I'm working with. I couldn't open it, but will give you the link in case you have better luck:

http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/forum/members/dapjwy-albums-my-restoration-begins.html

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...if you have a damp area in full sun, I would think that A. incarnata (swamp milkweed) would be fairly reliable. Cats love it and it's a great nectar source.
As mentioned above, I have only one spot with standing water. However, there are some moisture loving plants that grow on the property including Hercules' club, so I'm hoping it is moist enough for A. incarnata. I finally planted it this spring during all of those weeks of rain we had.

(It had been in a pot for many years...but that is a story for another time. I've really got to go to bed!)
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Old 06-28-2011, 04:41 AM   #9
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dapjwy, swamp milkweed is very adaptable to average garden soil. This is one of those plants that are somewhat deceptive in it's common name.
It seeds around the garden for me and pops up in places you wouldn't think it could grow. From 1 original plant I have 11 plants that self seeded in full to part sun areas.
It needs the sun or at least part sun..
The soil I have to start with is clay heavily composted and mulched over the years.
I even have a lone flowering stalk growing in the streetside garden right next to a butterflyweed plant. The soil in this garden is lighter and faster draining with sand added.

I also lost 3 butterfly weed plants this year,
It has been a very wet spring.
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:58 AM   #10
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Thanks, will-o,

I had read that it could be grown in average garden soil...so, I figured I'd try for the most moist area and expect the best. I had been growing it in a pot with no drainage holes...but eventually it never bloomed for me. It seems to have a very few flowerbuds forming now. I figure I'd like to give it the moisture it *seems* to benefit from...the few times I've seen it in the wild, it seems to be in a moist meadow type area.

Amazing that it happened to spring up near your butterflyweed. Seems like something a gardener might try...and fail. You have the contrast of the two and they both seem "content".

I can't wait until my natives start springing up in places that I didn't plant them.

Sorry to hear that you lost some of your butterflyweed too. I was concerned with all of the rain we had this spring, but I figured that my soil seems to be so well drained that it would be okay. I guess I was wrong.

One of the ones I lost was right on the edge where two paths join...it was an ideal spot to take pictures and view the monarch caterpillars I had last year. This particular plant was in its glory for weeks on end and seemed more attractive than the others. I will miss it there...and wonder if it is worth putting another in its place--it grew well there for 3 years, so maybe I'll try it again.
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