University of Minnesota

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project After 15 Years

Posted on Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 11:32 am in Monarch Citizen Science

For the past 15 years, the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP), run by the U of M MonarchLab, has engaged teachers, students, and others in cutting edge 
research on population biology.

(Photo: Amy Eichorn)

This long-term, large scale citizen science project is considered a premier example of how scientists and the public can partner to learn more about the natural world. In addition to their important contributions to understanding the basic dynamics of monarch populations, MLMP participants learn how science research is done, and are likely to engage in conservation actions that directly benefit monarchs and their habitat.

Over the last year, the MLMP has been one of two focus citizen science projects in a 5-year project funded by the National Science Foundation. In the ―Driven to Discover‖ project, adult leaders, U of M scientists and youth development experts work together to mentoryouth researchers as they conduct original research based on bird or monarch citizen science projects.

On the research front, data from the MLMP have recently been used in a study of how monarch density affects the prevalence of a potentially debilitating disease, Ophryocystis elektroscirrha. A paper summarizing these findings and authored by Becky Bartel, Jaap de Roode, Karen Oberhauser and Sonia Altizer has just been published in the journal Ecology. A recent analysis of MLMP data has documented a close tie between the population dynamics of fly parasitoids and monarchs, and further work on this relationship could add a great deal to our understanding of host-parasitoid interactions. A group of researchers from all over the US is using data from the MLMP and other monarch citizen science projects to answer basic questions about the environmental parameters that allow and prevent monarch survival and reproduction throughout their range. Anyone with access to a site in which milkweed grows can be an MLMP volunteer. To read more about the MLMP, or to sign up to volunteer, please visit

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