Recognizing that sound science is key to effective conservation, we support scientific research, including habitat and species assessments, with direct relevance to conservation in the overwintering sites. Our research funding supports scientists studying ecology and the conservation of monarchs in Mexico.
Assisted Migration (2021-2022)
To improve the survival of the oyamel (Abies religiosa) in future reforestations, Dr. Cuauhtémoc Saénz-Romero, his colleague and students conducted experiments on the propagation of Coyote brush (Baccharis conferta) and Snakeroot (Ageratina glabrata) nurse plants in nurseries. Using shrubs as nurse plants, provides protection to young oyamel seedlings from excessive heat and extreme temperatures.
In July 2021, an experimental reforestation was carried out planting these two species of shrubs at 3400 m altitude at Cerro Prieto Ejido in Sierra Chincua to try to cover a site that was highly disturbed by the winter storm of March 2016 with shrubs. Once established, the shrub cover will serve as a nurse plants for subsequent reforestation with oyamel in the future. Survival after eight months of planting was 78% in Baccharis conferta and 65% for Ageratina glabrata. These results are considered encouraging, especially considering that these shrubs had never been planted in nurseries before or used for reforestation since traditionally they have been considered marginal. A video of the process is shown below.
Another experimental site was set up at El Rosario where they are planting oyamels at three altitudes (3335, 3240, 3230) with nurse plants (Bacharis conferta – coyote brush and Eupatorium labratum – snakeroot) to see how well oyamel trees survive under the shade provided by the nurse plants at the different altitudes. The experiment was set up at the beginning of July, 2022 and we will have to wait and see how long it takes the nurse plants to grow enough to provide enough shade for the oyamels at the different altitudes. The photos below show the experimental sites with the nurse plants at 3335 m altitude in July 25, 2022.
The Monarch Butterfly Fund has supported this important research for several years and many papers have been published in scientific journals. The following links give access to some of the most relevant ones: https://tinyurl.com/snv8926z, https://tinyurl.com/2p8ejx84, https://tinyurl.com/5ae9avcx, https://tinyurl.com/45fme9su, https://tinyurl.com/5n6vjubv.