Monarch Butterfly Ecology, Behavior, and Vulnerabilities in North Central United States Agricultural Landscapes

Publication Type:

Journal Article


BioScience (2022)


monarch behavior, monarch ecology, monarch population


The North American monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Multiple factors are associated with the decline in the eastern population, including the loss of breeding and foraging habitat and pesticide use. Establishing habitat in agricultural landscapes of the North Central region of the United States is critical to increasing reproduction during the summer. We integrated spatially explicit modeling with empirical movement ecology and pesticide toxicology studies to simulate population outcomes for different habitat establishment scenarios. Because of their mobility, we conclude that breeding monarchs in the North Central states should be resilient to pesticide use and habitat fragmentation. Consequently, we predict that adult monarch recruitment can be enhanced even if new habitat is established near pesticide-treated crop fields. Our research has improved the understanding of monarch population dynamics at the landscape scale by examining the interactions among monarch movement ecology, habitat fragmentation, and pesticide use.