The Monarch Monitoring Project is a long-term study on monarch migration through Cape May, NJ. It is a part of the New Jersey Audubon Research Department, and closely affiliated with the Cape May Bird Observatory.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Good News from Mexico

The World Wildlife Fund just released results of the annual survey of monarch overwintering sites in Mexico, and the news is great -- the most area covered with monarchs since the winter of 2006 - 07.  The chart below is courtesy of the Monarch Joint Venture.  Learn more on their website:

Data from 1994-2003 were collected by personnel of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR) of the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (CONANP) in Mexico. Data from 2004-2019 were collected by the WWF-Telcel Alliance, in coordination with the Directorate of the MBBR. 2000-01 population number as reported by Garcia-Serrano et. al (The Monarch Butterfly : Biology and Conservation, 2004)

Monarch numbers naturally fluctuate, so it's too early to tell if this is just a signal that 2018 was a very good year for monarchs, or if conservation efforts are paying dividends.  Monarch enthusiasts need to continue working to protect habitat, plant milkweed, and maintain nectar sources for southbound migrating monarchs.  We're all hoping that this is the beginning of an upward trend.

Monarchs at El Rosario, Mexico, February 2018
Curiously, monarch numbers are dramatically lower at overwintering areas in California.  Dr. David James of Washington State University pondered this on a post from his Facebook page, "MonarchButterfliesinThePacificNorthwest," noting a theory of the late Dr. Lincoln Brower (co-founder of our project here in Cape May) that this population is periodically augmented by monarchs from the eastern population.  See his comments on the January 23 post from this page:

Monarchs at Cerro Pelón, February 2018
In other monarch news, at the Cerro Pelón Sanctuary in Mexico, a monarch was just found that had been tagged at The Nature Conservancy's Muleshoe Ranch in Arizona on October 2, 2018.  Research and tagging in Arizona are conducted by the group Southwest Monarch Study, learn more about their work at their website,  Their work has shown that some monarchs from Arizona migrate to the California coast, while others go to Mexico. The dynamics of this population are still being unraveled.

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