“I spend a lot of time fretting over the status of the monarch population and I’m always searching for factors or data that will help me understand the past as a way of predicting the future trends in monarch numbers,” Taylor said.
As the butterflies migrate through Texas and continue northward across the Great Plains this spring, Taylor has poured over data from a network of monarch observers, hoping to gauge the well-being of the butterflies. But he said it is difficult to pin down their numbers with precision.
“This returning population has been most unique,” Taylor said. “The data clearly shows that monarchs were limited to Texas this spring more than in any of the previous ten years. What does this mean? Was the dispersal of monarchs limited this spring because of the lower than average temperatures or because the population is low or some combination of both? The answer is probably the latter — a combination of low numbers of returning monarchs and lower temperatures.”
Nonetheless, Taylor said that data on the butterflies “is not all doom and gloom.”
“The conditions for growth in the monarch population in Texas have been exceptionally favorable the last two months,” Taylor said. “The temperatures have been moderate and due to adequate soil moisture, the milkweeds and nectar sources have been abundant. In addition, the fire ants have been scarce having not recovered from the prolonged drought of last year. So, small population or not, the monarchs should be off to a good start.”
The Monarch Watch director said that the health of butterfly population would be determined by the number of first-generation monarchs that come north out of Texas over the next six weeks and weather conditions throughout the northern breeding range over the remainder of the summer. Depending on these factors, the number of monarchs could stay steady, decline or increase compared to last year.
But gardeners can help the butterflies by planting milkweed and other monarch-friendly plants, Taylor said.
“We need the public to pitch in to save the monarch migration,” said Taylor. “Without an effort to protect monarch habitats and restore milkweeds, this incredible migration will slowly fade away.”
From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 8, Monarch Watch will host a free open house on KU’s west campus, where nearly 4,000 butterfly plants will be available, along with activities for children.
The open house will feature an exhibit of the actual monarchs that recently traveled 40 million miles to the International Space Station and were returned to Earth aboard the space shuttle.
Taylor encourages gardeners, homeowners, schools, governments and businesses to plant monarch “way stations” consisting of milkweeds and other butterfly plants, in hopes that the dedicated habitats will sustain a threatened population during its migration.
“The size of the overwintering population last year was 1.92 hectares and, with a modest increase this summer, the population might get back to this number,” Taylor said. “If the conditions for the rest of the summer are highly favorable, a winter population of 4 hectares is possible — but that doesn’t seem likely at this point. In any case, the winter population of 2010 is certain to be below the long-term average of 7.44 hectares.”
The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.
firstname.lastname@example.org | (785) 864-3256 | 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045
Brendan Lynch | EurekAlert!
Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences
27.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering