Modeling fall migration pathways and spatially identifying potential migratory hazards for the eastern monarch butterfly Academic Article uri icon


  • 2019, Springer Nature B.V. Context: Identifying core migratory pathways and associated threats is important for developing conservation priorities for declining migratory species, such as eastern monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus L.). Objectives: Characterization of monarch fall migration core pathways and annual variability was compared using kernel density estimation models (KDEMs) and MaxEnt ecological niche models. Potential anthropogenic hazards were identified across migratory pathways and related to conservation strategies. Methods: Journey North citizen scientist monarch overnight roost data from 2002 to 2016 were used to model the fall migration at 10km spatial resolution with MaxEnt and KDEMs. Potential anthropogenic threats to the fall migration were spatially identified along core migratory routes. Results: The KDEM migratory pathways best represented patterns of monarch movement towards overwintering locations. Migratory routes varied as much as 200km from east to west in the southern Central Flyway, which was also the only area identified with monarch roadkill hotspots. Potential threats from mosquito adulticide ultra-low volume (ULV) spraying were concentrated along Eastern Flyway coastal areas. Potential nectar resource loss or contamination from high usage of glyphosate herbicide and neonicotinoid insecticides was greatest in the Midwest, within the core route of the Central Flyway. Conclusions: MaxEnt and KDEM were complementary in modeling monarch migratory pathways. Monarch roadkill estimation and mitigation strategies are most needed in the southern core migratory pathways through Texas and Mexico. High quality nectar resourceenhancement could help to mitigate potential threats from mosquito ULV spraying and nectar resource loss or contamination in coastal areas and the Midwest, respectively.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 2.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Tracy, J. L., Kantola, T., Baum, K. A., & Coulson, R. N.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Tracy, James L||Kantola, Tuula||Baum, Kristen A||Coulson, Robert N

publication date

  • February 2019