Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) have a unique yearly life cycle, in which successive generations breed and move northward from the southern USA in spring to the northern US and southern Canada by late summer; they overwinter in extremely restricted areas in central Mexico and along the California coast. Mexican overwintering populations have experienced significant mortality events recently, which have been hypothesized as increasing in frequency owing to climate change. Here, we test the hypothesis of climate-change causation of these mortality events, at least in part, finding significant local weather trends toward conditions lethal for monarch survival. We use ecological niche estimates and future climate projections to estimate future overwintering distributions; results anticipate dramatic reductions in suitability of present overwintering areas, and serious implications for local human economies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics