The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) is a citizen science project involving volunteers from across the United States and Canada in monarch research. It was developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota to collect long-term data on larval monarch populations and milkweed habitat. The overarching goal of the project is to better understand how and why monarch populations vary in time and space, with a focus on monarch distribution and abundance during the breeding season in North America.
Monarch Larva Monitoring Project
MLMP data have been used in publications by both project personnel and other scientists. These papers have addressed impacts of crowding on disease incidence in monarchs (Lindsey et al., 2009), potential impacts of climate change on monarchs (Batalden et al., 2007), incidence of a fly parasitoid in monarchs (Oberhauser et al., 2007), natural enemies of monarchs (Prysby, 2004), temporal and spatial patterns in monarch abundance (Prysby and Oberhauser, 1999, 2004), and impacts of Bt corn pollen on monarchs (Oberhauser et al., 2001). Year to year variation in monarch density is useful for assessing long-term trends in monarch population numbers (see figure below).
The MLMP has resulted in a database that has helped scientists, policy-makers, citizens, and the media to understand the importance of long-term data in understanding animal, especially insect, population trends. From a conservation perspective, the protocol and findings were utilized in the North American Monarch Conservation Plan (Oberhauser and Prysby, 2008), and citizen volunteers have reported both an increased awareness of conservation issues and increased local conservation activism (Kountoupes and Oberhauser, unpublished data). Additionally, nature center professionals, teachers, and parents have used the program as a science education tool with youth, and report increased familiarity with the process of science as a result (Kountoupes and Oberhauser 2008).
Lewandowski, E.J. and K.S. Oberhauser. 2017. Contributions of citizen scientists and habitat volunteers to monarch butterfly conservation. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 22(1):55-70
Kasten, K., Stenoien, C., Caldwell, W. and K.S. Oberhauser. 2016. Can roadside habitat lead monarchs on a route to recovery? Journal of Insect Conservation 20(6):1047-1057
Lewandowski, E.J. and K.S. Oberhauser. 2016. Butterfly citizen science projects support conservation activities among their volunteers. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice 1(1):6
McCoshum, S., Andreoli, S., Stenoien, C., Oberhauser, K., and K. Baum. 2016. Species distribution models for natural enemies of monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) larae and pupae: distribuion patterns and implications for conservation. Journal of Insect Conservation 20(2):223-237
Stenoien, C., Nail, K.R., Zalucki, J.M., Parry, H., Oberhauser, K.S. and M.P. Zalucki. 2016. Monarchs in decline: A collateral landscape level effect of modern agriculture. Insect Science 25(4):528-541
Anda, A. and K.S. Oberhauser. 2015. Invertebrate natural enemies and stage-specific mortality rates of monarch eggs and larvae. Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Butterfly 5:60-70
Nail, K.R., Batalden, R.V. and K.S. Oberhauser. 2015. What's too hot and what's too cold: lethal and sublethal effects of extreme temperatures on developing monarchs. Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Butterfly 8:99-108
Nail, K.R., Stenoien, C., and K.S. Oberhauser. 2015. Immature monarch survival: effects of site characteristics, density, and time. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 108(5):650-690
Oberhauser K, Anderson M, Anderson S, Caldwell W, DeAnda A, Hunter M, Kaiser MC, Solensky MJ. 2015. Lacewings, wasps and flies-”oh my: insect enemies take a bite out of monarchs in Oberhauser KS, Nail KR, Altizer SM, eds. Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Butterfly. Ithaca, USA: Cornell University Press.
Ries L, Oberhauser KS, Taron DJ, Rendon-Salinas E. 2015. Connecting eastern monarch population dynamics across their migratory cycle in Oberhauser KS, Nail KR, Altizer SM, eds. Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Butterfly. Ithaca, USA: Cornell University Press.
Batalden RV, Oberhauser KS. 2015. Potential changes in Eastern North American monarch migration in response to an introduced milkweed, Asclepias curassavica in Oberhauser KS, Nail KR, Altizer SM, eds. Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Butterfly. Ithaca, USA: Cornell University Press.
Pleasants J. 2015. Monarch butterflies and agriculture in Oberhauser KS, Nail KR, Altizer SM, eds. Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Butterfly. Ithaca, USA: Cornell University Press.
Nail KR, Batalden RV, Oberhauser KS. 2015. What's too hot and what's too cold? Lethal and sub-lethal effects of extreme temperatures on developing monarchs in Oberhauser KS, Nail KR, Altizer SM, eds. Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Butterfly. Ithaca, USA: Cornell University Press.
Flockhart DTT, Pichancourt JB, Norris DR, Martin TG. 2014. Unravelling the annual cycle in a migratory animal: breeding-season habitat loss drives population declines of monarch butterflies. Journal of Animal Ecology 84:155–165
Pleasants JM, Oberhauser KS. 2013. Milkweed loss in agricultural fields because of herbicide use: effect on the monarch butterfly population. Insect Conservation and Diversity 6: 135-144.
Flockhart DTT, Martin TG, Norris DR. 2012. Experimental Examination of Intraspecific Density-Dependent Competition during the Breeding Period in Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus). PLoS ONE 7(9): e45080.
Oberhauser, Karen. 2012. Tachinid Flies and Monarch Butterflies: Citizen Scientists Document Parasitism Patterns over Broad Spatial and Temporal Scales. Am. Entomol. 58(1): 19-22.
Lindsey, E., M. Mudresh, V. Dhulipala, K. Oberhauser, S. Altizer. 2009. Crowding and disease: effects of host density on response to infection in a butterfly-parasite interaction. Ecological Entomology 34:551–561.
Oberhauser, K. S. and M. D. Prysby. 2008. Citizen science: creating a research army for conservation. American Entomologist 54:97-99.
Kountoupes, D., and K. S. Oberhauser. 2008. Citizen science and youth audiences: Educational outcomes of the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship. 1:10-20.
Oberhauser, K. S., I. Gebhard, C. Cameron, S. Oberhauser. 2007. Parasitism of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) by Lespesia archippivora (Diptera: Tachinidae). Amer. Midl. Nat. 157:312-328.
Batalden, R., K.S. Oberhauser, A.T. Peterson. 2007. Ecological niches in breeding generations of Eastern North American monarch butterflies. Ecol. Entomol. 36:1365-1373.
Prysby, M. and K. Oberhauser. 2004. Temporal and geographic variation in monarch densities: Citizen scientists document monarch population patterns. Pp. 9-20 in: Oberhauser, K.S. and M.J. Solensky, eds. The Monarch Butterfly: Biology and Conservation. Cornell University Press.
Prysby, M. 2004. Natural enemies and survival of monarch eggs and larvae. Pp. 27-38 in: Oberhauser, K.S. and M.J. Solensky, eds. The Monarch Butterfly: Biology and Conservation. Cornell University Press.
Rea, B., K. Oberhauser, M. Quinn. 2002. A field guide to invertebrates on milkweed. (96 pp.) Bas Relief Publishing Group, Pennsylvania.
Oberhauser, K.S., Prysby, M.D., Mattila, H.R., Stanley-Horn, D.E., Sears, M.K., Dively, G., Olson, E., Pleasants, J.M., Lam. W.F. & Hellmich, R. 2001. Temporal and spatial overlap between monarch larvae and corn pollen. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 98 (21): 11913-11918.
Prysby, M. and K. Oberhauser. 1999. Large scale monitoring of monarch populations. Proceedings of the 1997 North American conference on the Monarch Butterfly, pp. 379-384.
Hoth, J, I. Pisanty, K. Oberhauser, L. Merino and S. Price, editors. Commission for Environmental Cooperation: Montreal, QC.