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Abstract Detail


Puzey, Joshua [1].

Long-term (100 year) trends in monarch butterfly and milkweed (Asclepias) abundance estimated from natural history collections.

Over the past 25 years, the monarch butterfly has experienced a drastic decline (80-90% by some estimates). Research into this decline indicates that eradiation of the common milkweed plant, monarchs primary food source and egg nursery, is a likely culprit. Specifically, genetically modified crops have been identified as the major cause of milkweed decline. Several observations cause us to suspect that the story of the monarch/milkweed decline might be much more complex. Natural history collections offer a window into long-term historical trends in species abundances. Using natural history collections, both herbaria and entomological collections, we explore long-term (100 year) monarch butterfly and milkweed abundances trends. Next, we test for relationships of species abundance with large-scale agricultural data (farm size, amount of land in agriculture, fertilizer use, etc.). We uncover patterns that strongly indicate that the recent (last 25 year) monarch butterfly decline may have started much earlier and may predate the use of genetically modified crops.

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1 - College Of William And Mary, Biology Dept., PO Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA, 23061, United States


Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 4, Biogeography
Location: 105/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Monday, July 23rd, 2018
Time: 11:00 AM
Number: 4012
Abstract ID:828
Candidate for Awards:None

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