The integrated Monarch monitoring program: From design to implementation

Alison B. Cariveau, Holly L. Holt, James P. Ward, Laura Lukens, Kyle Kasten, Jennifer Thieme, Wendy Caldwell, Karen Tuerk, Kristen A. Baum, Pauline Drobney, Ryan G. Drum, Ralph Grundel, Keith Hamilton, Cindy Hoang, Karen Kinkead, Julie McIntyre, Wayne E. Thogmartin, Tenlea Turner, Emily L. Weiser, Karen Oberhauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Steep declines in North American monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) populations have prompted continent-wide conservation efforts. While monarch monitoring efforts have existed for years, we lack a comprehensive approach to monitoring population vital rates integrated with habitat quality to inform adaptive management and effective conservation strategies. Building a geographically and ecologically representative dataset of monarchs and their habitat will improve these efforts. These data will help track long-term changes in the distribution and abundance of monarchs and their habitats, refine population and habitat models, and illuminate how conservation activities affect monarchs and their habitats. The Monarch Conservation Science Partnership developed the Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program (IMMP) to profile breeding habitats and their use by monarchs in North America. A spatially balanced random sampling framework guides site selection, while also allowing opportunistic inclusion of sites chosen by participants, such as conservation areas. The IMMP weaves new protocols together with those from existing monitoring programs to improve data compatibility for assessing milkweed (Asclepias spp.) density, nectar resources, monarch reproduction and survival, and adult monarch habitat use. Participants may select a protocol subset according to interests or local monitoring objectives, thereby maximizing contributions. Conservation partners, including public and private land managers, academic researchers, and citizen scientists contribute data to a national dataset available for analyses at multiple scales. We describe the program and its development, implementation elements that make the program robust and feasible, participation to date, and how IMMP data can advance research and conservation for monarchs, pollinators, and their habitats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number167
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Issue numberMay
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Cariveau, Holt, Ward, Lukens, Kasten, Thieme, Caldwell, Tuerk, Baum, Drobney, Drum, Grundel, Hamilton, Hoang, Kinkead, McIntyre, Thogmartin, Turner, Weiser and Oberhauser.


  • Butterfly counts
  • Citizen science
  • Conservation effectiveness
  • Cooperative monitoring
  • Habitat assessment
  • Milkweed
  • Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus)
  • Nectar plants


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