“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!
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences