As monarch butterfly populations experience declines of up to 99% across the United States, and essential host milkweed habitat is lost to urbanization, critical conservation choices need to be made about these species and their interactions. At the DPEL, staff explores how the functional relationships between milkweeds and the insects that utilize them may be impacted as the Southwest gets warmer and drier. The goal is to increase understanding of these impacts that in turn will guide conservation decisions into the future.
Selected recent publications:
Pegram KV, Melkonoff NA. (2020) Assessing preference and survival of Danaus plexippus on two western species of Asclepias: A. angustifolia and A. linaria. Journal of Insect Conservation 24: 287-295.
Recent funding resources:
- Monarch Butterfly Fund, Lincoln P Brower Award (Melkonoff)
- BLM Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program
Photo: Monarch butterflies feeding at the Desert Botanical Garden (Photo credit: Natalie Melkonoff).