Monarchs are about to arrive in Mexico but this overwintering season things are going to be different. For one, the day of the dead is going to be celebrated virtually, but most importantly there will be new health protocols (article in Spanish here) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the visits are outdoors the risk of contagion is not too high but nonetheless certain restrictions will be applied. Local tourists, national and international will be required to wear a mask, physically distance, have their temperature taken before entering the sites and will be limited to 20 people at a time. So far, authorities have indicated that the Sierra Chincua and El Rosario sanctuaries will be open under this new protocol, but Cerro Pelón will be closed. We can only hope for the best as we keep on being vigilant of the pandemic and follow the guidelines to stay safe and healthy.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, schools in Mexico have closed but the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia are carrying on with their “Beyond the Mexico Book Project” as best as possible. In July resident of Angangueo and Journey North collaborator, Estela Romero purchased 60 copies of books about trees which will be distributed among the school children with letters describing the importance of trees and forest conservation. Still in development are a set of laminated picture cards highlighting about a dozen trees found in the region. Estela is speaking with local families and will ask at the ejidatario meetings in the different communities if there is a safe and viable way to deliver the lessons come November, as was scheduled initially. We are hoping it works out!
Our dear friend, Francisco Ramirez Cruz or as we fondly called him “Don Pancho”, a campesino from Ejido La Mesa died on September 11, 2020. He was 77 years old. A great collaborator, he assisted Dr. Cuauhtémoc Saénz-Romero in his assisted migration experiments helping with collecting seeds, growing Abies religiosa (oyamel) seedlings at a forest nursery at his home, locating sites to plant assisted migration field tests, and taking care of the surveillance, maintenance and measurements of the experiments. On April 19, 2019 Dr. Saénz and Don Pancho were featured in a wonderful article in the LA Times by Kate Linthicum, which describes the experiments. We will miss you Don Pancho!
Supported by MBF funding, Alternare and nine communities have reforested 23.6 hectares with 21,040 trees! The trees were grown and maintained in 21 school nurseries and seven in community nurseries. Around 500 women, men and children participated, averaging 25 people per reforestation due to the physical distancing requirements necessary to comply with the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. An additional 10 hectares were reforested with 8,000 trees in Carpinteros indigenous community to restore the forest under their care as indicated by the forest management plan of the MBBR’s buffer zone. MBF is happy to see that the pandemic did not stop Alternare and the communities from maintaining the beautiful forests for the overwintering monarchs!! Additionally, we are pleased to report that none of the community members that participated in the reforestation or Alternare´s team have experienced any symptoms of COVID-19. Below some images from the reforestation.
In 2017 the Monarch Butterfly Fund issued a public challenge to create a system that could track the flight of individual monarch butterflies on their migration. Dr. David Blaauw and his colleagues at the University of Michigan and the University of Pittsburgh have been working on developing tiny sensors that can be attached to individual monarchs and record information throughout their flights. They recently completed a paper on their development of a deep learning algorithm that can estimate a butterfly’s daily location by analyzing light and temperature sensor data continuously obtained from an ultra-low power, millimeter (mm)-scale sensor attached to the butterfly. With the help of 82 volunteers across the U.S., they have collected over 1500 days of real-world sensor data! Thanks to all of you who contributed to the challenge, MBF has been able to support this wonderful achievement!
Join thousands of volunteers in Canada, Mexico and the United States, from July 24 to August 2, 2020 for the 4th Annual International Monarch Monitoring Blitz. With limited ability to do field work due to COVID-19 restrictions, researchers need your observations now more than ever.
To take part in the Blitz, submit your data to Mission Monarch if you are in Canada. If you are east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States, submit your observations to the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, and if you are west of the Rocky Mountains, use the Western Monarch and Milkweed Mapper. In Mexico, submit your data to Naturalista. In addition to entering data through these programs, we encourage you to follow the Blitz on social media using the hashtag #MonarchBlitz!
For one week, the Blitz invites people across North America to look for milkweed plants and survey them for monarch eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies. This information will help researchers identify priority areas for monarch conservation actions. Data gathered during the Blitz is uploaded to the Trinational Monarch Knowledge Network, where it is accessible for anyone to consult and download.
For this year’s Blitz, we feel compelled to underline that your well-being, and that of those around you, comes first. Before participating in any activities, please look up and carefully follow the health and safety measures for COVID-19 recommended by the authorities in your region.