Dr. Karen Oberhauser, University of Wisconsin Madison Arboretum, Monarch Butterfly Fund, Monarch Larva Monitoring Project
Dr. Sonia Altizer, University of Georgia Athens, Project Monarch Health
Drs. Karen Oberhauser and Sonia Altizer will describe how monarchs interact with dozens of other species in diverse ecological communities through pollination, herbivory, competition, and as hosts or as prey to natural enemies. Monarchs are famous for sequestering toxins from their milkweed host plants, which protects them against some natural enemies. Despite this protection, monarchs can fall prey to predators, parasites, and pathogens at all stages of their life cycle. In fact, scientists estimate that only 5% of monarchs survive from egg to the adult stage in natural populations, in large part due to natural enemies. In this webinar, we tour the incredible diversity of animals and microbes that interact with monarchs in the wild. These agents can exert significant pressure on wild monarch populations, and have shaped monarch morphology, chemical defense, and possibly even their amazing migration. Human rearing of monarchs can protect them from some enemy attacks, but captive conditions and crowding can also expose monarchs to new threats. Because many predators and parasites are part of monarch’s natural ecology, it is important to protect and restore the diverse ecological communities that monarchs are a part of. Finally, this webinar will provide ideas for how you can think beyond monarchs as a single species, and engage with and conserve their remarkable community.