CREATING HABITAT: A STATEWIDE EXPERIMENT FOR THE WESTERN MONARCH (DANAUS PLEXIPPUS)
|Kim E Armstrong; River Partners; firstname.lastname@example.org; Helen Swagerty, Cheryl Schultz, Emily Mullins, Erin Hagen, Angela Laws|
The Western Monarch’s population has dropped by over 90% in 3 years, putting it at high risk of extinction within the coming decades (Xerces 2020). Factors driving this extinction include a lack of summer and fall migratory breeding habitat and the lack of knowledge of this population’s needs (Pelton et al 2019). To increase habitat connectivity and fill knowledge gaps, River Partners has implemented a statewide project to enhance over 600 acres of habitat, prioritizing existing restoration sites. The planning process considered experimental factors that could be kept consistent across large geographical ranges and differing ecotypes. Prioritization of site locations was based on the ability to integrate into planned restoration activities, presence of irrigation infrastructure, weed pressure, adjacent land uses, and geographic distribution. Plots were created with experimental factors in mind, while also incorporating known needs of the monarch. Experimental plots will be used to study short term changes in pollinator abundance, long-term patterns of monarch colonization and the longevity of floral resource diversity, focusing on reducing competition between milkweed and other understory species. A plot-based design, with consistent milkweed density, but varying experimental factors, is ideal for assessing the preferences of monarchs and other pollinators utilizing the habitat .