Monarch Butterfly Conservation Webinar Series

The USFWS is partnering with the Monarch Joint Venture to develop a series of webinars on monarch biology, monitoring, and conservation. Resources located at bottom of page.

Monarch Butterfly Conservation Webinar Descriptions

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Click here to download video!Assessment of Exotic Milkweed (A. curassavica) and the Spread of Disease in Monarchs (00:59:59) June 16, 2016

Presented by Dr. Sonia Altizer, Professor & Associate Dean of Academic Affairs University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology; Ania Majewska, Ph.D. and Dara Satterfield, candidates University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology.

Monarch lovers know that planting milkweed in their gardens is a sure way to attract these familiar black and orange butterflies to their yards. Over 100 species of milkweed are native to the U.S. and Canada, yet the most commonly planted milkweed is a single, non-native species. Tropical milkweed (A. curassavica), also known as Mexican milkweed or blood flower, is attractive, easy to grow, and often the only milkweed available at garden centers and nurseries. Unlike most native milkweed species that enter dormancy in the fall, tropical milkweed persists longer and even grows year-round where temperatures remain mild, such as parts of the southwest and Gulf Coast, providing a continuous supply of nectar for adults and food for caterpillars. This can sustain year-round breeding of wild monarchs and lead to high transmission of a debilitating protozoan pathogen calledOphryocystis elektroscirrha (OE). In this webinar, researchers who have studied monarchs, OE and tropical milkweed in the laboratory and field will discuss (1) how tropical milkweed leads to the formation of resident (non-migratory) monarch populations in the southern US, and (2) consequences of this behavior for pathogen transmission, monarch migration, and mixing between resident and migrant monarchs. The presenters will also explore options for managing tropical milkweed gardens, and other ways to support monarchs conservation.

*Time ran out for answering questions during the Livestream broadcast. Therefore, the presenters have answered your questions and have placed them on this page. Q & A

Click here to download video!Conserving of Monarchs in the Western US (01:03:22) February 28, 2016

Presented by Sarina Jepsen, Endangered Species Program Director, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Though most are familiar with the large populations of monarchs in the eastern US that travel to Mexico each fall, monarchs in the western US – including those that migrate annually to the California Coast – have received far less attention. In the western US, the Xerces Society is working to identify, protect, manage, and restore monarch breeding and overwintering habitat through conducting and engaging citizen scientists in applied research, developing habitat management technical guidance, and advocacy. This webinar will provide an overview of the biology, life history, and conservation status of monarchs in the western US, including factors that may be contributing to the observed population decline at California overwintering sites. The webinar will also review current conservation efforts of the Xerces Society and partners, including habitat management and enhancement efforts, applied research, and citizen science programs in monarch natal, migratory, and overwintering habitats of the West.

Sarina Jepsen directs the Xerces Society’s Endangered Species Program, where she works on the conservation of monarch butterflies, bumble bees, freshwater mussels, and other at-risk invertebrate species. Since 2007 she has developed, implemented an overseen numerous projects that address the conservation of monarch butterflies in natal, migratory and overwintering habitats of the western US. She has co-authored many publications about monarch butterflies including the report Conservation Status and Ecology of the Monarch Butterfly in the United States and the book chapter Understanding and Conserving the Western North American Monarch Population. She serves as Deputy Chair of the IUCN Bumblebee Specialist Group, where she works with bumble bee experts to evaluate the conservation status of bumble bees worldwide.

Click here to download video!Conserving Monarch Butterflies in an Urban Setting (00:54:42) July 16, 2015

Urban habitat conservation is critical to the success of monarch butterflies. Creating habitat in the urban setting will ensure that the butterflies have a place to stop on their migration journey. In this webinar, Catherine Werner from the St. Louis Mayor’s Office and Milkweeds for Monarchs program, Cortney Solum from Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge, and Kristin Shaw from the Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers Landscape Conservation Cooperative, will share a case study of the Milkweeds for Monarchs (M4M) program in the city of St. Louis, MO. The M4M program is an urban ecological effort of the city and its partners to connect people to nature while providing habitat for the monarch butterfly and its caterpillars. Not only is the M4M program creating habitat within the City of St. Louis, it is a part of a larger effort to conserve the monarch butterfly and other pollinators in urban areas in the Eastern United States. Participants will learn how they might be able to start a similar program in their urban community.

Presenters: Cortney Solum is the Visitor Services Manager at Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge and part of the City of St. Louis’ Milkweeds for Monarchs team. Kristin Shaw is the Coordinator of the Ecological Places in Cities (EPIC), a practitioner’s network within the Eastern Tallgrass and Big Rivers and Upper Midwest Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperatives geographies. Catherine Werner is the Sustainability Director at the St. Louis Mayor's Office and Lead for Milkweeds for Monarch Program.

Copy of PowerPoint Presentation: Urban Wildlife Conservation Program and Monarch Butterflies (PDF version) Kristin Shaw/Cortney Solum

Click here to download video!Contributions of Monarch Citizen Science & Program Overviews (01:11:53)- April 30, 2015

Monarch citizen science has been critical to our understanding of this iconic species. Four main programs will be covered in-depth in this webinar, representing multiple aspects of monarch biology. These include Journey North and Monarch Watch (tracking the migration), Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (tracking egg and larval abundance), and Monarch Health (tracking monarch parasites). Outcomes of these and other citizen science programs will be shared.

Presenters: Sonia Altizer is a Professor at the University of Georgia, where she and her students study monarch behavior, ecology, and interactions with a protozoan parasite. In 2006, she launched the citizen science project Monarch Health. Elizabeth Howard is the director of Journey North, a citizen science effort to track animal migrations, including monarch butterflies. Since 1994, Journey North has been a central player in environmental education and citizen science efforts. Karen Oberhauser is a Professor at the University of Minnesota, where she and her students conduct research on several aspects of monarch butterfly ecology. In 1996, she and a graduate student started the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. Chip Taylor a Professor at the University of Kansas. In 1992, Taylor founded Monarch Watch and enlisted the help of volunteers to tag monarchs during the fall migration among other conservation projects.

Click here to download video!Enhancing Existing Landscapes for Monarch/Native Pollinators (01:18:02) April 23, 2015

In this webinar, a panel of presenters will share techniques and case studies for enhancing existing habitats for monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Topics will include best management practices for augmenting natural habitats, roadsides, right-of-way areas, and other landscapes. Additionally, you will learn more in-depth about milkweed and nectar plant availability, including seed collection, plug production and sourcing native plant and seed materials.

Presenters: After a career in academia, working for the USFWS, and as a research biologist for the MN DNR, Greg Hoch recently accepted the position of Prairie Habitat Team Supervisor for the MN DNR. Mary Byrne and Vicki Wojcik work with partners across all landscapes types to establish pollinator habitat, develop planting recommendations, and offer technical guidance as Pollinator Partnership’s Plant Ecologist and Research Director. Kristine Nemec is the Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Program Manager at the Tallgrass Prairie Center (TPC). She guides and supports Iowa's county roadside programs, which establish native vegetation in county rights-of-way. Laura Jackson is Director of the TPC and a professor at UNI. Her research and teaching focus on restoration of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Chip Taylor is the director of Monarch Watch and a professor at the University of Kansas. Monarch Watch is a monarch outreach program focused on education, research and conservation.

Click here to download video!Growing Milkweed for Monarch Conservation (01:02:02) March 23, 2016

As milkweed, the sole host plant for monarch butterflies, has diminished across the landscape, so have population numbers for the iconic butterfly. A broad scale effort involving many partners is needed to restore this habitat across North America to support monarchs and other wildlife. A key step in this process is increasing the availability of native milkweed plant materials, including seeds and plugs. In this webinar you will learn about regional native milkweed plant material needs, seed collection, processing, storage, stratification, germination, transplantation to plug cell, growing out, control of pests with biological control methods, site preparation, planting, watering and monitoring to determine survival rates. From backyard gardeners to large scale native plant producers, everyone has a role to play in supporting monarch habitat across North America. The focus of this webinar will be producing milkweed host plants, but other native nectar plants are also essential in supporting the monarch migration.

Presented by Dr. Chip Taylor, Founder and Director, Monarch Watch. Dr. Taylor has a broad background in insect ecology. Starting in 1974, he established research sites and directed students studying Neotropical African honey bees in French Guiana, Venezuela, and Mexico. In 1992, Taylor founded Monarch Watch, an outreach program focused on education, research and conservation relative to monarch butterflies. Since then, the program has enlisted the help of volunteers to tag monarchs during the fall migration. This program has produced many new insights into the dynamics of the monarch migration. In 2005 Monarch Watch created the Monarch Waystation program, in recognition that habitats for monarchs are declining at a rate of 6,000 acres a day in the United States. The goal of this program is to inspire the public, schools and others to create habitats for monarch butterflies and to assist Monarch Watch in educating the public about the decline in resources for monarchs, pollinators and all wildlife that share the same habitats.

Click here to download video!Habitat Restoration Fundamentals (01:19:21) February 12, 2015

This webinar will examine the step-by-step procedures for designing, installing, and managing native plant communities specifically designed for monarch breeding. Among the topics to be explored are initial planning considerations, formulating seed mixes, site preparation and weed abatement, and long-term land management practices. Real world case studies will be provided, and successful approaches in multiple eco-regions will be described.

Presented by Eric Lee-Mäder. Eric is the Pollinator Conservation Program Co-Director at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation (www.xerces.org). In this role Eric works across the world with farmers, gardeners, land managers and the agencies like the US Department of Agriculture and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to restore native habitat in working agricultural lands. His professional background includes previous work as a small farms extension farm educator, and crop consultant for the native seed industry. Eric is the author of several books including the best-selling Attracting Native Pollinators, and Farming with Beneficial Insects: Strategies for Ecological Pest Management.

Click here to download video!Monarch Biology and Conservation Basics (00:57:28) December 17, 2015
From egg to adult, monarchs undergo a fascinating metamorphosis. The life cycle of monarchs is well known and inspirational, making these iconic insects ideal for research and science education. However, habitat loss and other threats are endangering this majestic creature.

After attending this webinar, you'll have a greater understanding of the monarch's life cycle, biology, as well as their incredible journey across North America to overwintering sites in Mexico and California each year.

This is the first webinar in the "Monarch Butterfly Conservation Webinar Series" that is being jointly produced by the Monarch Joint Venture and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Future webinars will focus on habitat conservation and enhancement, milkweed propagation, and other topics where you can learn how to take a more active role in protecting monarchs.

Presented by Dr. Karen Oberhauser: Karen Oberhauser is a Professor in the Dept. of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota, where she and her students conduct research on several aspects of monarch butterfly ecology. Her research depends on traditional lab and field techniques, as well as the contributions of a variety of audiences through citizen science.

Click here to download video!Monarch Conservation Science Partnership (01:18:22) May 26, 2016

Presented by Dr. Karen Oberhauser, University of Minnesota Monarch Lab; Ryan Drum, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Wayne Thogmartin, United States Geological Survey; and Holly Holt, Monarch Joint Venture.

Monarch conservation will require the involvement of the governments, non-government organizations, and citizens of all three North American countries. It will also require that limited resources are spent in ways that are most likely to help monarchs. Monarch biologists, habitat conservation practicioners, and landscape scientists have been meeting for over two years to create a blueprint for ensuring that monarch conservation strategies are based on our best available science. This group has worked to create a target for monarch population numbers that will minimize risks of extinction, develop regional priorities for habitat protection and restoration, and identify the most important risks to monarch populations. In this webinar, we'll summarize the work of the Monarch Conservation Science Partnership, ending with concrete suggestions for local, regional, and continental action.

Karen Oberhauser is a Professor in the Dept. of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota, where she and her students conduct research on several aspects of monarch butterfly ecology. In 1996, she and graduate student Michelle Prysby started the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, which engages hundreds of volunteers throughout North America. In 2013, Karen received a White House Champion of Change award for her work with Citizen Science.

Ryan Drum is a Landscape Ecologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. His work is focused on linking biological planning, conservation design, on-the-ground delivery, and monitoring to guide landscape-scale adaptive management in the Midwest-Great Lakes Region and beyond. Ryan serves as the USFWS co-lead for the Monarch Conservation Science Partnership and is also the Service lead for Trinational Monarch Conservation Science Partnership.

Wayne Thogmartin is a research ecologist with the United States Geological Survey at the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His research is generally focused on the statistical and mathematical ecology of rare and declining species. Current work involves developing continental-scale energetic-based models of migratory waterfowl, half-life and extinction risk calculations as a means of prioritizing species for conservation action, and calculating the value of a subpopulation to system dynamics to better understand the flow of ecosystem services as a function of migration. He is co-lead of the USGS Monarch Conservation Science Partnership.

Click here to download video!Monarch Gardens and Community Action (00:53:11) August 13, 2015.

Interested in creating a monarch habitat garden? Want to participate or initiate community efforts to protect monarchs in your area? Creating habitat and getting others involved are two of the most important ways we can protect and conserve the monarch butterfly. Experts from Monarch Joint Venture partner organizations Wild Ones and the National Wildlife Federation will present their best practices for using these important conservation strategies. Donna VanBuecken of Wild Ones will discuss the basics of gardening and the major considerations to make your garden habitat sustainable and inviting for monarchs. Mary Phillips of the National Wildlife Federation will discuss community scale efforts highlighting their own success stories in engaging local communities in conservation.

Donna VanBuecken is owner of Accent on Natural Landscaping which provides administrative and management services for not-for-profit environmental organizations. Since 1998, VanBuecken has served as the Executive Director for Wild Ones. Wild Ones is a national not-for-profit education and advocacy organization promoting environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration, and establishment of native plant communities. They have chapters throughout the USA.

Mary Phillips is National Wildlife Federation's Garden for Wildlife Campaign Manager. She works with key stakeholders across the Garden for Wildlife program to empower homeowners, communities, schools, business, faith based organizations and landscapers to view their own property as affordable and convenient places to engage in wildlife conservation.

Patrick leads the National Wildlife Federation’s volunteer programs and the NWF Community Wildlife Habitat program which certifies cities, towns, counties and neighborhoods for being wildlife friendly.  NWF volunteers and community leaders are working on-the-ground in communities to plant milkweed and pollinator gardens and improve local ordinances and policies.

Click here to download video!Monarch Research and Advanced Topics (01:09:44) May 21, 2015

Join Dr. Sonia Altizer, Dr. Lincoln Brower, and Dr. Karen Oberhauser in this advanced topics webinar about monarch research. You will learn about cutting edge monarch research using new techniques to answer questions about things like migration and population genetics. Additionally, learn about research in the areas of overwintering monarchs, disease spread, natural enemies, population trends, and climate change. You will also get a short overview about the new monarch book, titled Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Butterfly.

Presenters: Sonia Altizer is a Professor at the University of Georgia, where she and her students study monarch behavior, ecology, and interactions with a protozoan parasite. In 2006, she launched the citizen science project Monarch Health from her lab. Lincoln Brower has been involved in monarch research and conservation for over 60 years. He works in the fields of conservation, ecology and ecological chemistry of the monarch butterfly. He is a Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology Emeritus for the University of Florida. Karen Oberhauser is a Professor at the University of Minnesota, where she and her students conduct research on several aspects of monarch butterfly ecology. In 1996, she and graduate student Michelle Prysby started the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, which engages hundreds of volunteers throughout North America.

Click here to download video!Southwestern Monarch (00:55:54) April 28, 2016

Presented by Gail Morris, Coordinator of the Southwest Monarch Study. Gail Morris is the Coordinator of the Southwest Monarch Study, a Monarch Watch Conservation Specialist and the Vice-Chair of the Monarch Butterfly Fund. She also sits on the Board of Directors of the Central Arizona Butterfly Association. Gail is the primary author of "Status of the Danaus plexippus Population in Arizona" by G.Morris, C.Kline & S.Morris, 2015.

For many years the southwest United States was a monarch mystery, a place where monarchs were scarce and little known about their breeding and migration patterns. The Southwest Monarch Study opened new doors of understanding after tagging over 14,000 monarchs and monitoring breeding habitats across the region.This webinar will explore citizen science efforts primarily in Arizona but expanding to New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, the California deserts and western Colorado. Our results dispelled the earlier belief in a Rocky Mountain division in migration destination and also provided new information regarding abundant breeding habitats and small overwintering aggregations in the area. New monarch conservation partnerships working to expand habitats across the southwest will also be featured.

Monarch Butterfly Resources

Xerces General Monarch Resources

Xerces Western Monarch and Milkweed Resources – Natal & Migratory Habitat

Xerces Western Monarch Resources – Overwintering Habitat

Other Relevant Western Monarch Resources

US Fish and Wildlife Service Monarch Resources