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.
Monitoring Restoration of Illegally Logged Area in S. Chincua
Dr. Blanco García and his students are studying the restoration process on a 10 hectare areas in Sierra Chincua that was illegally logged and suffered a severe winter storm. Academics, government agencies, the MBBR staff and neighboring ejidos of the affected site defined and implemented a restoration plan.The plan included fencing the site, aligning woody debris to retain soil, reforestation (active restoration) and leaving some areas to regenerate naturally (passive restoration). Since then, both restoration processes have been continuously monitored.
As part of the task force that is implementing this plan, Dr. José Arnulfo Blanco García leads the team that is in charge of monitoring the restoration process. The area was fenced and so far natural regeneration by dominant tree species in the adjacent forest is absent. After five years no oyamel, pine or other species have successfully established on the 26 parcels that have been monitored since 2016 in the logged area. Fortunately, the areas that were reforested (active regeneration) in that year have had good survival rates.
Currently, 64 seed traps were established at different distances and directions to try to find seed dispersal patterns to determine possible reasons why seedlings are absent.
Monitoring Monarchs in the West
This year, a new and exciting initiative came our way to support a monitoring project in Baja California! Not much is known about the monarch migratory route along the coasts of California and Baja California. However, in 2016, the Northwest Monitoring Network was established to learn more about the western migration. Terra Peninsular, a conservation organization that works in the Baja California peninsula, is going to engage communities through virtual workshops (due to Covid-19) to join the monitoring efforts. They will select sites where monarchs are present and count butterflies as they fly by in intervals following the National Monarch Butterfly Monitoring Network protocols. We are pleased to endorse this study of monarchs in Northwestern Mexico which opens up a new part of the understanding the monarch migration.
Assisted Migration 2020
Dr. Cuauhtémoc Sáenz-Romero, his colleagues and students continue their experiments of reciprocal transplants of provenances of oyamel (Abies religiosa) seedlings at contrasting altitudes. After more than one year, at the site where most of the seedlings were planted at a higher altitude than that where they originated, i.e. at 3400 m altitude, the seedlings continued to have a very good survival (generally between 97 and 100%). However, seedlings that were planted at a lower altitude (2600 m elevation), in a site chosen to mimic a climate warmer by up to 5.6 °C than where some of them originated, the survival rate was 53%. In other words, shifting seed sources at higher altitudes up to 400 m, does not have a negative effect confirming what we have been suspecting all along that when seed sources are transferred to warmer sites, mortality is higher. This strategy is proposed as an adaptative management tool to face climatic change and is called assisted migration. It has been shown in previous field experiments by Carbajal-Navarro as published in the Frontiers of Ecology and Evolution Journal. In contrast, moving to warmer sites, emulating the effects of climatic change, has a very negative effect. Most of the mortality happen in April, at the end of the warm and dry season. Below images of seedlings planted at high, intermediate and low elevations in common garden experiments.