Quasi-extinction risk and population targets for the Eastern, migratory population of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus)

Brice X. Semmens, Darius J. Semmens, Wayne E. Thogmartin, Ruscena Wiederholt, Laura López-Hoffman, Jay E. Diffendorfer, John M. Pleasants, Karen S. Oberhauser, Orley R. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Eastern, migratory population of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus), an iconic North American insect, has declined by ∼80% over the last decade. The monarch's multi-generational migration between overwintering grounds in central Mexico and the summer breeding grounds in the northern U.S. and southern Canada is celebrated in all three countries and creates shared management responsibilities across North America. Here we present a novel Bayesian multivariate auto-regressive state-space model to assess quasi-extinction risk and aid in the establishment of a target population size for monarch conservation planning. We find that, given a range of plausible quasi-extinction thresholds, the population has a substantial probability of quasi-extinction, from 11-57% over 20 years, although uncertainty in these estimates is large. Exceptionally high population stochasticity, declining numbers, and a small current population size act in concert to drive this risk. An approximately 5-fold increase of the monarch population size (relative to the winter of 2014-15) is necessary to halve the current risk of quasi-extinction across all thresholds considered. Conserving the monarch migration thus requires active management to reverse population declines, and the establishment of an ambitious target population size goal to buffer against future environmentally driven variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number23265
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 21 2016

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Butterflies
Health Services Needs and Demand
Population Density
Population
Space Simulation
North America
Mexico
Uncertainty
Canada
Breeding
Insects
Buffers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Semmens, B. X., Semmens, D. J., Thogmartin, W. E., Wiederholt, R., López-Hoffman, L., Diffendorfer, J. E., ... Taylor, O. R. (2016). Quasi-extinction risk and population targets for the Eastern, migratory population of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). Scientific Reports, 6, [23265]. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep23265

Quasi-extinction risk and population targets for the Eastern, migratory population of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). / Semmens, Brice X.; Semmens, Darius J.; Thogmartin, Wayne E.; Wiederholt, Ruscena; López-Hoffman, Laura; Diffendorfer, Jay E.; Pleasants, John M.; Oberhauser, Karen S.; Taylor, Orley R.

In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 6, 23265, 21.03.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Semmens, BX, Semmens, DJ, Thogmartin, WE, Wiederholt, R, López-Hoffman, L, Diffendorfer, JE, Pleasants, JM, Oberhauser, KS & Taylor, OR 2016, 'Quasi-extinction risk and population targets for the Eastern, migratory population of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus)', Scientific Reports, vol. 6, 23265. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep23265
Semmens, Brice X. ; Semmens, Darius J. ; Thogmartin, Wayne E. ; Wiederholt, Ruscena ; López-Hoffman, Laura ; Diffendorfer, Jay E. ; Pleasants, John M. ; Oberhauser, Karen S. ; Taylor, Orley R. / Quasi-extinction risk and population targets for the Eastern, migratory population of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). In: Scientific Reports. 2016 ; Vol. 6.
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