Ecological niches in sequential generations of Eastern North American monarch butterflies (Lepidoptera: Danaidae): The ecology of migration and likely climate change implications

Rebecca V. Batalden, Karen Oberhauser, A. Townsend Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations

Abstract

Eastern North American monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus L.) show a series of range shifts during their breeding season. Using ecological niche modeling, we studied the environmental context of these shifts by identifying the ecological conditions that monarchs use in successive summer months. Monarchs use a consistent ecological regimen through the summer, but these conditions contrast strikingly with those used during the winter. Hence, monarchs exhibit niche-following among sequential breeding generations but niche-switching between the breeding and overwintering stages of their annual cycle. We projected their breeding ecological niche onto monthly future climate scenarios, which indicated northward shifts, particularly at the northern extreme of their summer movements, over the next 50 yrs; if both monarchs and their milkweed host plants cannot track these changing climates, monarchs could lose distributional area during critical breeding months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1365-1373
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental entomology
Volume36
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2007

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Ecological niche modeling
  • Geographic distributions
  • Monarch butterflies
  • Seasonal distributions

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