With 50% fewer monarchs butterflies observed across Canada and 75% fewer in Quebec in 2015, researchers are turning to the public for help in conducting a nationwide study of monarchs and their breeding habitats. The loss of breeding habitats with milkweed plants, which feed monarch caterpillars, is seen as partly accounting for the monarchs’ decline.
Researchers from the Montreal Insectarium, uOttawa, the Université du Québec à Rimouski and the University of Calgary are teaming up to launch Mission Monarch, a project calling on members of the public to get outside and look for milkweed plants, count any monarch eggs, caterpillars or butterflies, take pictures, and share their findings on the Mission Monarch website. As with BumblebeeWatch.org, a similar project, the public’s participation in Mission Monarch will help researchers understand why this migratory species’ population has declined and what Canadians can do to help it recover.
“There is extensive breeding habitat for monarch butterflies across southern Canada, but we have not been protecting it over the past decade, a period of dramatic monarch decline. We have an opportunity now to engage Canadians in the important tasks of learning about pollinators like monarch butterflies and how our actions can restore healthy monarch populations,” said biology professor Jeremy Kerr, University of Ottawa Research Chair in Macroecology and Conservation. Kerr is a leading researcher on the Mission Monarch project.
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