Authors

Megan E. Zagorski '16, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2016

Department

Latin American Studies

Abstract

The annual migration of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a natural phenomenon widely integrated into the popular and social imagination of North America. However, this migratory population has recently declined. I investigated the threat of climate change on the future distribution of suitable monarch habitat, using ArcGIS to create a model of current and future monarch habitat. I also analyzed municipal data for 5 communities in Mexico State in an examination of the social aspects of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve [MBBR]. According to my model, an estimated 38.6% to 69.8% of current monarch habitat may be lost within the MBBR by 2050, potentially affecting 14 of the 19 current colonies, while throughout the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, 52% to 76% of suitable habitat could disappear. Most members of these 5 communities work in the agriculture and service sectors, and all but one reported a tourist infrastructure. The potentially large losses in suitable habitat question the effectiveness of protected areas in the face of climate change, and suggest the need to develop a more resilient strategy to protect both natural and social aspects of the monarch migration.

Comments

Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies Senior Thesis