GIS applications to model and interpret Monarch butterfly migratory behavior and population decline

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Karen Keller Kesler (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Rick Bunch

Abstract: North American monarch butterfly populations have been declining at an alarming rate. While animal studies tend to favor biological methods, migratory phenomenon has a distinct geographical element. This body of research uses geographic information science, cartography, spatial analysis, and remote sensing to assess threats to monarch butterflies that occur along the migratory flyways and at the summer breeding grounds and overwinter sites. A site suitability model was created to assess the suitability of temperature, land cover, agriculture, elevation, and precipitation as it applies to butterfly viability and functionality. Cartographic techniques were used to visualize the impacts of herbicide resistant crops on milkweed availability in the summer breeding grounds as well as to substantiate the presence of reported non-migratory populations in Florida and along the Southern Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Remote sensing technology was used to ascertain the loss and level of land degradation that has occurred at the overwinter sites in Mexico and to isolate naturally occurring milkweed using spectral signatures with the goal to protect present stands and to monitor locations for future migrations. Results indicated that the monarch butterflies are encountering substantial threats at every stage of their migration with the two most substantial factors being loss of naturally occurring milkweed and loss of viable habitat.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
Eastern Monarch Butterfly, Geographic Information Science, GIS, Migration, Monarch Butterfly, Western Monarch Butterfly
Monarch butterfly $x Migration
Monarch butterfly $x Wintering
Monarch butterfly $x Conservation

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