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Front. Ecol. Evol. | doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00167

The Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program: from design to implementation

 Alison B. Cariveau1, 2*, Holly L. Holt3*,  James P. Ward4,  Laura Lukens2, 5,  Kyle Kasten2, 5, Jennifer Thieme2,  Wendy Caldwell2, 5,  Karen Tuerk2, 5,  Kristen Baum6,  Pauline Drobney7,  Ryan G. Drum7,  Ralph Grundel8, Keith Hamilton9, Cindy Hoang9,  Karen E. Kinkead10, Julie McIntyre7,  Wayne E. Thogmartin11, Tenlea Turner9,  Emily L. Weiser11 and Karen Oberhauser12
  • 1University of Minnesota Twin Cities, United States
  • 2Monarch Joint Venture, United States
  • 3Oak Ridge Associated Universities, United States
  • 4Inventory and Monitoring, Wildlife Refuge System, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), United States
  • 5Department of Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, United States
  • 6Department of Integrative Biology, Oklahoma State University, United States
  • 7United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), United States
  • 8Great Lakes Science Center, United States Geological Survey, United States
  • 9Inventory and Monitoring, National Wildlife Refuge System, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), United States
  • 10Lowa Department of Natural Resources, United States
  • 11Upper Midwest Water Science Center, United States Geological Survey, United States
  • 12Madison Arboretum, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States

Steep declines in North American monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) populations have prompted continent-wide conservation efforts. While monarch monitoring efforts have existed for years, we lack a comprehensive approach to monitoring population vital rates integrated with habitat quality to inform adaptive management and effective conservation strategies. Building a geographically and ecologically representative dataset of monarchs and their habitat will improve these efforts. These data will help track long-term changes in the distribution and abundance of monarchs and their habitats, refine population and habitat models, and illuminate how conservation activities affect monarchs and their habitats. The Monarch Conservation Science Partnership developed the Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program (IMMP) to profile breeding habitats and their use by monarchs in North America. A spatially balanced random sampling framework guides site selection, while also allowing opportunistic inclusion of sites chosen by participants, such as conservation areas. The IMMP weaves new protocols together with those from existing monitoring programs to improve data compatibility for assessing milkweed (Asclepias spp.) density, nectar resources, monarch reproduction and survival, and adult monarch habitat use. Participants may select a protocol subset according to interests or local monitoring objectives, thereby maximizing contributions. Conservation partners, including public and private land managers, academic researchers, and citizen scientists contribute data to a national dataset available for analyses at multiple scales. We describe the program and its development, implementation elements that make the program robust and feasible, participation to date, and how IMMP data can advance research and conservation for monarchs, pollinators, and their habitats.

Keywords: butterfly counts, citizen science, conservation effectiveness, Habitat assessment, Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), cooperative monitoring, Milkweed, Nectar plants

Received: 28 Feb 2019; Accepted: 25 Apr 2019.

Edited by:

Laurentiu Rozylowicz, University of Bucharest, Romania

Reviewed by:

Adam Kőrösi, Other, Hungary
Arthur M. Shapiro, University of California, Davis, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Cariveau, Holt, Ward, Lukens, Kasten, Thieme, Caldwell, Tuerk, Baum, Drobney, Drum, Grundel, Hamilton, Hoang, Kinkead, McIntyre, Thogmartin, Turner, Weiser and Oberhauser. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Ms. Alison B. Cariveau, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, St. Paul, United States, alison.cariveau@gmail.com
Dr. Holly L. Holt, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, United States, hollylholt@gmail.com