Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Maine
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Maine Project

Development of predictive models for identifying priority Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Coastal North America migratory stopover areas used by Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus plexippus).

September 2017 - December 2020


Participating Agencies

  • University of Maine
  • Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
  • Veterans Administration

The annual migration of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus plexippus) to breeding areas that span from southern Canada across the United States, and back to over-wintering habitat in central Mexico has been designated as a threatened “phenomenon” by the IUCN in 1983 in recognition of the importance of coordinated habitat conservation across North America. Although the need for monarch butterfly conservation action has been recognized through development of cooperative agreements among Canada, the United States, and Mexico to conserve and restore habitat in these recently documented migratory pathways, threats to the species’ persistence continue. There also are critical knowledge gaps preventing effective conservation planning, such as information about types and distribution of stopover habitat used by monarchs during coastal migration. Information about persistence of nectaring and roosting habitat with changing climate also is a critical need for migration stopover habitat management and conservation. This project is a collaboration of the US Geological Survey Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the University of Maine, and Tennessee State University. We are developing spatially-explicit predictions of Monarch Butterfly coastal stopover habitat based on identification of important environmental characteristics (including habitat and climate variables), and using these stopover habitat predictions to inform conservation or restoration of these areas for migrating Monarchs and other pollinators. We will evaluate long-term vulnerability of the predicted stopover areas and their use by migrating Monarchs in response to projected climatic and habitat changes. Study results will be distributed in a variety of formats appropriate for use by land managers as well as citizen groups (including information sheets, maps, and an interactive mapping tool) and provide information about land management actions for conservation and enhancement of nectaring and roosting habitat for migrating Monarch Butterflies and insect pollinator populations.