Tag: monarch butterflies

Milkweed shortage not the only reason for monarch decline

Monarch butterflies during migration. PHOTO COURTESY GENE NEIMINEN/USFWS.
Monarch butterflies at their overwintering grounds in Mexico. Photo courtesy Gene Neiminen/USFWS.

‘We have to get the science right’

Staff Report

The decline of milkweed may not be the main factor driving monarch butterflies toward oblivion, according to a new study by Cornell University scientists. Weather, habitat fragmentation and dwindling sources of nectar in the autumn are also critical, the new study reports.

“Thanks to years of data collected by the World Wildlife Fund and citizen-scientists across North America, we have pieced together the monarch life cycle to make inferences about what is impacting the butterflies,” said Cornell University Prof. Anurag Agrawal.

“Given the intense interest in monarch conservation, the blame being put on herbicide use and the national dialog about potentially listing monarchs under the endangered species act, we have to get the science right,” Agrawal said. Continue reading “Milkweed shortage not the only reason for monarch decline”

Scientists once again warn of monarch butterfly extinction risk

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A monarch butterfly in Florida. @ bberwyn photo.

Steep regional population declines are leading the species toward the brink

Staff Report

While there has been some recent good news about short-term prospects for monarch butterflies, a new study led by scientists with theU.S. Geological Survey and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego warns that the eastern population of the species could become extinct within a few decades.

The new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, concluded that there was huge drop in the number of migrating monarchs. The study calculated the decline at 84 percent between 1997 and 2015. Based on that trend, there is a chance that the Eastern migratory monarch population could drop low enough to make extinction inevitable. Continue reading “Scientists once again warn of monarch butterfly extinction risk”

Biodiversity: Monarchs bounce back, still need help

Population still near historic lows

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Can monarch butterflies survive massive habitat loss? bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Monarch butterfly populations may have rebounded a bit this year, according to the annual overwintering count, but the species is still going to need help to recover, conservation advocates say, urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to give the colorful insects Endangered Species Act protection.

This year’s count estimated that 56.5 million monarchs are currently gathered in Mexico for the winter, up from last year’s lowest ever total of 34 million. But that’s still more than 80 percent below the 20-year average and down 95 percent from numbers tallied in the mid-1990s. Near-perfect conditions during breeding season helped bolster the numbers this year. Continue reading “Biodiversity: Monarchs bounce back, still need help”

Environment: Saving monarch butterflies won’t be easy

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Can monarch butterflies be saved?

Dwindling populations spur formal review by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal biologists said last week they’ll start an in-depth one year review to determine whether monarch butterflies should be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The formal status review comes in response to a petition from conservation groups claiming the butterfly’s dramatic decline is being driven in large part by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops in the Midwest, where most monarchs are born. By some estimates, monarch butterfly populations have declined by 90 percent in the past two decades. Continue reading “Environment: Saving monarch butterflies won’t be easy”

Biodiversity: Endangered species protection sought for dwindling monarch butterflies

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Can monarch butterflies be saved?

Pesticides, habitat loss and GMO crops seen as main threats

Staff Report

FRISCO —As monarch butterfly populations dwindle to unprecedented low levels, activists say the colorful and far-ranging insects need protection of the Endangered Species Act to survive. In a formal listing petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a coalition of advocacy groups say the widespread use of pesticides and genetically modified crops are the biggest threats to the butterflies. Continue reading “Biodiversity: Endangered species protection sought for dwindling monarch butterflies”

Study: Americans willing to pay for monarch butterfly conservation

Monarch butterflies during migration. PHOTO COURTESY GENE NEIMINEN/USFWS.
Monarch butterflies during migration. PHOTO COURTESY GENE NEIMINEN/USFWS.

Changes in gardening habits could help protect a cherished species

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Americans be willing to pony up for Monarch butterfly conservation, according to a new study that links conservation and economic values.

The research, conducted by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey. Colorado State University and the University of Minnesota, suggests that willingness could add up to big bucks — $6.5 billion that could be used to support conservation efforts.

Monarch butterfly populations have been declining across Mexico, California and other areas of the United States since 1999.

A 2012 survey at the wintering grounds of monarchs in Mexico showed the lowest colony size ever recorded. Much of the decline  has been blamed on the loss of milkweed, the native plants on which monarch caterpillars feed. Continue reading “Study: Americans willing to pay for monarch butterfly conservation”

Biodiversity: Monarch butterflies in steep decline

Monarch butterflies during migration. PHOTO COURTESY GENE NEIMINEN/USFWS.

GMO crops blamed for significant 10-year drop in population numbers

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —A decades-long downward trend in Monarch butterfly numbers is expected to continue this year, with reports from the World Wildlife Fund and other sources indicating there may be almost one-third fewer butterflies making the northward flight from Mexico this spring and summer.

This year’s steep decline may, in part, be due to last summer’s severe drought in Texas, which resulted in less food for the showy insects as they traveled south. But year-to-year fluctuations don’t hide the overall long-term trend of population decline.

“The latest information shows that Monarchs will be down from 25 to 30 percent this year, and that has been part of a disturbing trend the last few years,” said Craig Wilson, a senior research associate in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and a long-time butterfly enthusiast.

This year, according to the Texas Monarch Watch, Monarchs covered about 7.14 acres of forest in their Mexican breeding grounds compared to 9.9 acres last year, and it shows a continued long-term downward trend in Monarch population since official surveys began in 1994. Continue reading “Biodiversity: Monarch butterflies in steep decline”