A Spartan-led research team has uncovered an answer — at least for the most recent population decline — with a huge assist from volunteers.
By Michigan State University, July 19, 2021
Michigan State University ecologists led an international research partnership of professional and volunteer scientists to reveal new insights into what’s driving the already-dwindling population of eastern monarch butterflies even lower.
Between 2004 and 2018, changing climate at the monarch’s spring and summer breeding grounds has had the most significant impact on this declining population.
In fact, the effects of climate change have been nearly seven times more significant than other contributors, such as habitat loss. The team published its report today (July 19, 2021) in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
“What we do is develop models to understand why monarchs are declining and what’s happening to biodiversity in general,” said Erin Zylstra, the study’s lead author. Zylstra is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Biology and the Ecology, Evolution and Behavior Program, both in MSU’s College of Natural Science.