Complexity, humility and action: a current perspective on monarchs in western North America

Louie H. Yang


Recent studies have continued to shed light on the ecology of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in western North America. These studies have documented a declining overwintering population over several decades, punctuated by unexpected variability in recent years. Understanding this variability will require grappling with the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of resources and risks presented to western monarchs throughout their annual life cycle. Recent changes in the western monarch population further illustrate how interacting global change drivers can create complex causes and consequences in this system. The complexity of this system should inspire humility. However, even recognizing the limits of our current understanding, there is enough scientific common ground to take some conservation actions now.

Current Opinion in Insect Science