I was introduced to Dr. Lincoln Brower in a wonderful DVD series by BBC Earth titled Life. In it, there are two segments on Monarch butterflies. Dr. Brower takes us to Mexico to aid in the filming of the wonderous Monarch butterfly migration. Today, while watching the DVD, I decided to google Dr. Brower’s name and see if it brought up something new from him. I found this rather depressing account of his travels to Mexico in February 2013 to assess the Monarch butterfly population. Here’s the link to the pdf. It’s an interesting. albeit, very sad read.
We found this operation an appalling continuation of the illegal logging in the supposedly completely protected core area if the Reserve. ….
Based on our cursory observations of the small sizes of the colonies and their dispersed states, together with the extreme drought conditions (also noted in Pruden and Morris, 2013), I predict that the remigration into the US this spring may be perilously low.
Given the heavy impact of tourism and horses on the butterfly colony areas and the trails leading to them, the ever increasing installation of pipes capturing the water from the natural seeps and spring sources near the colonies, the continued cumulative impact of horse logging, the ever-present small scale logging that is rampant in the area, the frequent presence of grazing cattle and sheep, the authorized removal of trees by salvage logging that causes extensive soil compaction, the misguided methods of replanting seedlings, and what appears to be increasing desiccation, the future of the monarch butterfly overwintering phenomenon in Mexico is seriously compromised. The slope of graph of the year-by-year total colony area is pointing to zero (Brower et al, 2012) and may soon be there. Potential good news is that the Reserve Director Gloria Travera is aware of the problems and has promised to address them (Brower, personal communication, 21 February 2013).
…the genetically engineered herbicide-resistant corn and soybean crops are eliminating milkweed and nectaring habitats on an unprecedented scale where most of the monarchs breed in the Midwestern United States (Brower et al., 2011).
Be sure to check out my parts 1, 2, and soon to be published 3, series on what you can do to help the Monarch butterfly.