WANTED - CRP Sites to Monitor
We’re in search of CRP sites for monarch butterfly habitat research!
In the past few decades North American monarch populations have declined in large numbers. A recent study found substantial probability that the eastern population, which includes monarchs in Wisconsin and Minnesota, could decline to a level where population recovery is no longer feasible in the next 20 years. While many factors could be contributing to the decline, habitat loss and changing agricultural practices in the Upper Midwestern US appear to be driving factors. Landowners and government agencies are working together to provide monarch habitat, which must include milkweed plants for the caterpillars and nectar plants for the adult butterflies. Because the need is so great, it’s important to ensure that habitat restoration is based on a good understanding of how seeds in the ground translate to plants on the landscape.
We are looking to monitor restored prairies currently enrolled in CRP in the Upper Midwest (ideally within 2-3 hours of the Twin Cities) to help us tease out features of restorations that promote excellent monarch habitat. Ideally, we want information on what seeds were planted at the sites, when they were planted, and what management practices have occurred since planting. To monitor these sites, we’ll visit them four to five times during the summer of 2017. We will collect data on the abundance of milkweed and nectar plants, and whether monarchs are using the plants. Monitoring sites five times will allow us to assess early, middle, and late breeding season nectar sources. The ultimate goal is to help landowners make informed decisions about what to plant and how to manage prairies. With your support, we can help save this habitat and an iconic species for years to come!