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>Monarch Watch Update - February 16, 2004
>http://www.MonarchWatch.org
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>
>==========================================
>
>Contents:
>
>    1) Welcome!
>
>    2) Conservation Perspectives
>
>    3) The Western Population & Continuous Counts
>
>    4) Status of the Population
>
>    5) Tag Recovery Fund
>
>    6) Cold-Hardiness and Related Issues
>
>    7) Video Conferencing with Monarch Watch
>
>    8) New Life Cycle Poster
>
>    9) How to Unsubscribe from this Update
>
>==========================================
>
>1) Welcome to Monarch Watch's Update List!
>
>You are receiving this email because you have provided Monarch Watch with 
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>==========================================
>
>2) Conservation Perspectives
>
>"What can be done to stop the illegal logging?"
>By Jordi Honey-Rosés
>World wildlife Fund, Mexico
>
>Monarch season is in full swing in Mexico with tourists climbing up and 
>down the Transvolcanic Mountains, journalists calling regularly for a 
>quote on the latest controversy, and researchers avidly jotting 
>observations inside the colonies with notebook, compass, camera, and GPS 
>in hand.
>
>A late January storm has caused some Monarch mortality in the colonies 
>although much less than the severe freeze of 2002 and by no means should 
>affect the visitors' spectacular experience at the overwintering sites the 
>remainder of the season. The biologists of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere 
>Reserve (MBBR) will be finishing the count of dead butterflies and 
>releasing the final mortality numbers soon.
>
>The press in Mexico picked up on the mortality story immediately and along 
>with the story came questions about the illegal logging inside the 
>protected area. The questions about the illegal logging in the Monarch 
>Butterfly Biosphere Reserve are without a doubt the most difficult and 
>complex to answer. However to ignore the illegal logging issue would be 
>just as problematic. The organized and illegal extraction of trees is 
>probably the primary threat to the habitat of the Monarch Butterfly in 
>Mexico and not to address the issue would make any interdisciplinary and 
>long term conservation plan incomplete and bordering on irrelevant.
>
>To the Mexican government's credit, they have recognized the Monarch 
>region as one of the most contentious natural areas in the country. 
>Mexico's Minister of the Environment Alberto Cárdenas grouped the Monarch 
>region in the same category as the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in 
>Chiapas, which serves as campground and hideout for ski masked Zapatista 
>revolutionaries. Cárdenas also included in this category the forests of 
>Guerrero -- infested with drug traffickers and armed revolutionaries of 
>their own. Not bad company for the Monarchs. We could call this trio, 
>Mexico's Axis of Illegal Logging.
>
>So clearly the Mexican authorities recognize the magnitude of the illegal 
>logging in the Monarch Butterfly Protected Area. And also to their credit, 
>money is being channeled into the region accordingly. The Mexican Park 
>Service (CONANP) has more than doubled the budget of the Protected Area 
>since 2000 under the leadership of Ernesto Enkerlin. This increase of 
>funds has been noticeable in the area and executed through the hard work 
>of the Reserve Director Marco Bernal and Subdirector Eduardo Rendón.
>
>Still, the illegal logging continues and is self evident. To better 
>visualize the dimension of the illegal logging, a group of Mexican 
>decision makers, researchers and journalists participated in aerial 
>flights above the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere reserve this past January 
>21st and 22nd. The flights were possible thanks to the non-profit 
>organization Lighthawk and its network of volunteer pilots. Passengers 
>included Michoacán State Delegates of SEMARNAT (Secretary of Environment) 
>and PROFEPA (Environmental Attorney General's Office) as well as the 
>Regional Director of the CONAFOR (Mexican Forestry Service) and the 
>Municipal Presidents of Angangueo, Ocampo and Senguio.
>
>The flight passengers saw not only the dire effects of the logging, but 
>also witnessed the logging occurring in real time, where at least four 
>trucks were seen inside the Monarch Biosphere Reserve driving through a 
>devastated area of what only two years ago was dense oyamel forest.
>
>http://www.MonarchWatch.org/update/logging.html
>
>These powerful aerial images were shown later that night on Mexico's 
>national news channel Televisa. The news clip on the illegal logging also 
>featured an interview with the long time researcher Dr. Lincoln Brower. 
>The prime time news report denouncing the illegal logging created quite a 
>controversy and was followed up by an opinion article written by Mexican 
>poet and conservationist Homero Aridjis and published in Mexico's most 
>widely read newspaper Reforma also denouncing the continued illegal 
>logging in the protected area. ("Crespúsculo de la monarca" Reforma, 
>Febrero 1, 2004)
>
>So all of this brings us to the most important and difficult question: 
>What can be done to stop the logging? And more specifically what can 
>independent and non-governmental organizations do? Aside from the police 
>and judicial work in the hands of the Mexican authorities, the appropriate 
>actions to halt the illegal logging can be broken down into three groups 
>1) Empower local community efforts, 2) Document the illegal extraction, 
>and 3) Denounce the illegal activities to the press.
>
>First and foremost, the agrarian communities that own this forest need to 
>be empowered to protect what forest they have left. In the long run only a 
>strong local commitment for protection will stop the illegal logging. 
>External efforts will never be a substitute for this local commitment. 
>Fortunately, within each community there is always a group who would like 
>to stop the logging, but who don't have the means to do so, or who feel 
>powerless before the network of illegal loggers. These individuals need to 
>be empowered. Local community forest watch groups need to be better 
>equipped, and if they are doing a good job, they should be paid for their 
>time spent protecting the forest. Interestingly, field research in the 
>forest could be an indirect way to support the community forest watch 
>groups. It has been seen that illegal loggers are less likely to enter an 
>area if there are people present in the forest. Lastly, when local 
>community members request forest protection help from the authorities, 
>independent groups can follow through on their request to be sure that the 
>correct action is taken.
>
>Second, conservation organizations and researchers can and must document 
>the status of the logging. The use of aerial photography and high 
>resolution satellite images have recently allowed specific areas to be 
>identified for action. Also, written documentation must be gathered that 
>describes the logging activities and what is being done (or not) to stop 
>it. The analysis and conclusions generated, such as the most affected 
>areas, the access points for loggers, and the patterns of illegal activity 
>should all be shared among conservation organizations and authorities to 
>find more effective means to stop the illegal activity.
>
>Lastly, there comes a time when the illegal activities needs to be made 
>public and denounced in the press. Going to the press can help pressure 
>for a deeper political commitment at a higher level of government but also 
>risks a negative twist in the message by the press, or generating ill will 
>from local government agencies. Criticism should be used carefully so as 
>to address specific problems and not fall into sweeping statements or 
>condemnation about the status of the Reserve as a whole.
>
>All three courses of action require close coordination between 
>conservation groups, researchers, local communities and the government 
>authorities. A recent initiative designed to catalyze this coordination is 
>the Monarch Butterfly Regional Forum whose website is temporarily being 
>hosted at
>
>http://www.wwf.org.mx/monarca/index_foro.html (Spanish)
>
>The Forum will bring most of the major Monarch conservation groups to the 
>table to share their work-plans and map them in a Geographic Information 
>System and database. Hopes are high that this latest effort may help 
>diminish the illegal logging.
>
>For years the discussion on illegal logging has lacked site specific 
>evidence to focus the debate. Finally, new technology is allowing this 
>debate to become more specific and quantitative. Conservation 
>organizations, researchers and the public at large are not the authority 
>to directly confront the illegal logging, but there are specific actions 
>that may be taken. The time has come for a more open dialogue with 
>Government agencies in Mexico to jointly find solutions in order to ensure 
>an intact and permanent habitat for the Monarch butterfly.
>
>About the Author
>Jordi is from Sunnyvale, California and graduated from the University of 
>California, Berkeley. He joined World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Mexico City 
>in November of 2001 and since has been privileged to join the trinational 
>conservation efforts to protect the overwintering habitat of the Monarch 
>Butterfly. When not chasing after Monarch Butterflies, Jordi enjoys 
>triathlon training and reading about Mexican and European history.
>
>Conservation Perspectives
>Conservation Perspectives will provide regular and accurate updates on the 
>local conservation issues at the Mexican overwintering sites of the 
>Monarch Butterfly. This space will be a forum for discussion and sharing. 
>The updates will serve as conduit for ideas and stories that are rarely 
>heard from Mexican side of the border, especially those successes by local 
>Mexican inhabitants to protect the forest of the Monarch Butterfly.
>
>==========================================
>
>3) The Western Population & Continuous Counts: Is it Worth the Effort?
>
>By Mia Monroe, Park Ranger, Muir Woods National Monument
>
>The size of the western monarch population is estimated by a one-time 
>count at each of the overwintering sites. These counts occur around 
>Thanksgiving each year. This year, stewards at the Ellwood Main 
>overwintering site have been conducting counts throughout the season. The 
>hope is that the ongoing monitoring at the Ellwood Main overwintering site 
>will help us understand how a site protects monarchs during storms, sunny 
>days when monarchs venture out to nectar and sip dew, and when unseasonal 
>conditions render a site inhospitable. However, these ongoing counts could 
>have bigger applications as well.
>
>John Goldwasser, a mathematician, and his daughter, Shama Cash-Goldwasser, 
>are monarch lovers from West Virginia. They visited Ellwood Main in 
>January and were told the overwintering population numbered approximately 
>8,000 butterflies (this number was obtained during early November). This 
>number seemed low to John and Shama and they conducted their own count. 
>They estimated a population of 25-35,000 butterflies. After returning 
>home, they shared this information with Monarch Watch. Monarch Watch then 
>asked western monarch observers to comment. Due to continual monitoring, 
>Ellwood Main Stewards Chris and David Lange were able to confirm that 
>numbers had increased from the beginning of the season. The initial count 
>(in early November) indicated the site hosted 8,000 monarchs. By the end 
>of November (11/23) the site hosted 13,400 monarchs. Counts on 12/05 and 
>1/13 showed 18,400 and 22,000 butterflies (respectively), indicating the 
>overwintering population at Ellwood continued to grow as the season progressed.
>
>We generally don't expect overwintering populations to increase much after 
>mid-November. What happened at Ellwood? Well, we don't really know. 
>November counts can be misleading since butterflies from temporary sites 
>continue to join the main sites as the season progresses. Weather may have 
>been a factor as well. Perhaps monarchs from less protected sites moved 
>into Ellwood after the bruising holiday storms coastal California 
>experienced. Monarchs were virtually absent from the extremes of the 
>overwintering range (Baja, San Diego, LA, and Marin Counties) later in the 
>season; these counties were hit by severe winter storms and conditions 
>chilled. It is possible that the core counties, including Ellwood, took in 
>monarchs as they fled the chilled counties. One explanation is that other 
>regional sites are "weaker" structurally (from a monarch's point of view) 
>and "feed" the main, or at least more meteorologically stable, sites such 
>as Ellwood throughout the season. Another possibility is that a break in 
>the weather encouraged monarchs to forage out of site range. Later, when 
>cloud cover moved in earlier than expected, they dashed for the closest 
>site - Ellwood! It is interesting to note that nearby overwintering 
>clusters in the East Bay counties, such as Ardenwood, Alameda Golf Course 
>and San Leandro Golf Course, were able to hold on to their monarchs 
>throughout the same winter period.
>
>A good way to explore these theories is to develop a continuous monitoring 
>program at nearby sites and to begin a tagging program that would help 
>monitor intra-site movement. The Thanksgiving Count has been invaluable 
>through the years to give us an idea of the size of the western 
>population. However, it is now time to think about a continuous monitoring 
>effort throughout specific regions, as this could help us understand 
>population dynamics and trends. Clearly, the Ellwood counts this season 
>demonstrate the value of identifying sites in California to use in a 
>tagging program and to monitor carefully throughout the season to 
>determine whether "gain and loss" at these sites can be correlated with 
>environmental factors.
>
>What's next for the Western population? Thanks to the early spring we're 
>experiencing, the mating season will be underway over Valentine's Day 
>weekend (quite a heartwarming sight at Natural Bridges SP, Pacific Grove, 
>Pismo Beach or Ellwood). In just a few more weeks the overwintering season 
>will come to a close and the butterflies will be heading north and east again.
>
>Edited by Sarah Schmidt, Monarch Watch Program Assistant
>
>==========================================
>
>4) Status of the Population - by Chip Taylor
>
>There is good news and bad news this month, first, the good news. The 
>measurements of the monarch colonies by the personnel of the Reserva 
>Biosfera de la Mariposa Monarca (RBMM) show that the total area occupied 
>by all the colonies to be 11.12 hectares (22.24 acres). This is the third 
>largest overwintering population since the colonies were first 
>systematically measured in 1993. We had expected an increase above the 8 
>hectares reported last year based on reports from observers and taggers 
>throughout the fall migration. The weather conditions during the migration 
>were also favorable, decreasing the likelihood of significant mortality 
>during the migration. Given that only 20-25% of the population survived 
>the winter storm of 2001-2002 the size of the population this year signals 
>a remarkable recovery over the past two breeding seasons.
>
>The bad news is that it's happened again. For the third time in four years 
>the overwintering monarch colonies in Mexico have experienced severe 
>mortality due to winter rains followed by snow and clearing skies and 
>temperatures in the 20s (F). There appear to have been two episodes of 
>cold weather, one starting on the 17th of January and the other occurring 
>at the end of the month. The details of these events are unclear. We need 
>data from monitoring sites in the colonies and reports of the chronology 
>of the weather changes from residents of the area. On the 3rd of February 
>we posted a report on the effects of the first storm to Dplex-L. This 
>report from the RBMM (published in the popular newspaper Reforma) 
>indicated that only 10% of the monarchs had died as a result of the 
>freeze. However, subsequently I learned of the claim by one resident 
>familiar with the colonies that the mortality was "twice as bad" as in 
>2002. Since 75-80% of the monarchs were killed in 2002, I wasn't sure how 
>to interpret what was meant by "twice as bad". In addition, it wasn't 
>clear when this person had visited the colonies. On Wednesday, 11 Feb., I 
>received another report from a Mexican observer who visited the colonies 
>on the 9th. He indicated that the mortality was indeed quite severe and 
>that only a few trees at both Sierra Chincua and El Rosario contained 
>monarchs. The numbers of live monarchs seen at each site was extremely 
>low. This observer also thought that the mortality was greater than in 
>2002 and that many butterflies were buried alive in the masses that had 
>fallen from the trees. The colonies appeared to be all but wiped out - 
>gone. That night I didn't sleep well and periodically got up to send off 
>emails in the middle of the night. On Thursday, I was busy with lots of 
>details and teaching but late in the day I received an express mail letter 
>from Dr. John Wenzel from Ohio State University. I'll quote portions of 
>the letter (dated 11 February) relevant to the mortality issue. John 
>visited Chincua on 2 February. "I just got back from Michoacan. - Chincua 
>was particularly beautiful. We rode a couple of miles, crunching through 
>icy puddles on the path, to a point that became too steep for the horses. 
>Then we hiked down a steep face to where the monarchs were in the forest. 
>One of our guides said they had counted about 300 trees festooned with 
>them (well he didn't use the word festooned but anyway -) --- The storm 
>that knocked them from their perches on 30 January did NOT kill them, and 
>by Feb 2 millions upon millions were back in the trees where they belong, 
>although they were slightly displaced from the area where Lincoln Brower 
>had apparently been two weeks before and marked many trees (not far, same 
>hillside). Yes, there were tons of butterflies on the ground, but if they 
>were not wet they are usually not dead either. We put many (thousands?) in 
>sun spots and they warmed and moved around, and some took flight. --- 
>Anyway, in addition to the tags, I just wanted to pass along the 
>information that I was there after the snowstorm, and I doubt the 
>butterflies really suffered great mortality despite news reports to the 
>contrary. The ones that didn't get stepped on seemed to be okay, and most 
>were back up in the trees after a few days." This was certainly a more 
>positive perspective and I slept better the next night. It is common for 
>the survivors of these catastrophic storms to move and reform colonies at 
>some distance from the original site.
>
>The task that remains is to assess the true extent of the mortality and to 
>estimate the number of survivors. The later is particularly important 
>since it gives us a view of what to expect in the future. Estimating the 
>mortality is difficult because many dead butterflies remain lodged in the 
>trees and large numbers still alive after the storm are nevertheless 
>seriously damaged and take many days to die. According to Jordi's account 
>above, the RBMM is in the process of reassessing the mortality and I've 
>also learned that Jordi is working with a group of international students 
>to assess the numbers of dead butterflies in the colonies. To sum this up, 
>all I can tell you at this point is that it is certain that the mortality 
>was much higher than the 10% previously reported but probably lower than 
>the 90% I had envisioned from the first two eyewitness accounts. We will 
>know more in a few weeks.
>
>The occurrence of catastrophic winter mortality in three of the last four 
>years, with both of the last two events being extreme in their severity, 
>is of great concern. In the past, most episodes of weather related 
>mortality have affected only a few of the colonies. In 2002, and this 
>year, all of the colonies were impacted and the proportion of the 
>population lost to these two weather events is unprecedented in the 
>twenty-nine years these sites have been observed by scientists. Global 
>climate change is a reality, and, in the case of central Mexico, the 
>models predict increasing winter rainfall. Normally, winter is the dry 
>season in Mexico but there is no doubt but that winter moisture has been 
>increasing in recent years. This has been a particularly rainy winter, and 
>it is rain followed by falling temperatures that devastates the 
>population. The increase in rainfall is consistent with the climate change 
>models and Karen Oberhauser and Town Peterson recently predicted that over 
>the next 50 years there will be a significant increase in the conditions 
>that contribute to winter mortality such that it will threaten the very 
>existence of the eastern migratory population. Global climate change is 
>upon us and this may already be happening. Should this pattern continue, 
>the monarch could become a poster symbol for the effects of global warming 
>- not a happy thought.
>
>Oberhauser, K and A. T. Peterson. 2003. Modeling current and future 
>potential wintering distributions of eastern North American monarch 
>butterflies. PNAS 100:14063-14068.
>
>==========================================
>
>5) Tag Recovery Fund
>
>Last month we appealed for more contributions to the tag recovery fund. 
>This was before the storms. Now we have a crisis. Many of the local 
>residents have 100s of tags found on the monarchs killed by the late 
>January storms. We don't have the funds to buy the number of tags 
>available. Donations to the tag recovery fund for this year were $2,371. 
>As you know, we pay 50 pesos (approximately $5) for each tag recovered - a 
>reasonable compensation, since it normally takes 1-3 hours to find each 
>tag among the dead butterflies on the forest floor. After the big chill of 
>January 2002 (fall 2001 tags) we spent approximately $12,000 recovering 
>tags with the help of Dave Kust and others. This resulted in 31 pages of 
>data entries in the 2001 Season Summary. We recovered many more tags the 
>following year and we could have bought more had we anticipated the large 
>number of tags that still remained as a result of the storm in 2002.
>
>We will match up to $5,000 in donations from our operating budget but even 
>$10,000 may not be enough to recover all the tags available. If you can 
>help us with the tag recovery fund, your tax-deductible contributions 
>would be greatly appreciated. Checks may be sent to us at:
>
>Monarch Watch
>University of Kansas
>Entomology Program
>1200 Sunnyside Avenue
>Lawrence, KS 66045-7534
>
>If we have the money to buy the tags, many of the taggers will have their 
>tags recovered and we will learn more about the patterns of the migration.
>
>==========================================
>
>6) Cold-hardiness (cryoprotectants), mortality due to winter storms, why 
>monarchs overwinter at lower latitudes and related issues.
>
>By Chip Taylor
>
>The text for this topic was written for inclusion in the January update 
>but was left out due to the overall length of the email message. 
>Unfortunately, this topic is even more appropriate for this month's update 
>and if we included it here the Update would be much too long (again). So, 
>we have decided to post this article online at
>
>http://www.MonarchWatch.org/update/cold.html
>
>==========================================
>
>7) Video Conferencing with Monarch Watch
>
>We have posted a couple of pages online that summarize our early 
>experiences with video conferencing over the internet and provide a 
>"getting started" guide for those of you that would like to participate. 
>We are still looking for classes/groups to connect with so if you are 
>interested in setting up a session please read through the information we 
>have online at
>
>http://www.MonarchWatch.org/ichat
>
>and then contact us at [log in to unmask] and we'll set up a time to connect.
>
>The iChat software that we use runs on Macintosh hardware; however, the 
>latest beta version of iChat AV supports audio and video chatting with PC 
>computers running Windows XP and AOL Instant Messenger 5.5 - for more 
>information about the PC requirements for "Video Instant Messaging" visit
>
>http://www.aim.com
>
>If you have any questions about this please feel free to drop us a line 
>anytime!
>
>==========================================
>
>8) New Life Cycle Poster
>
>We have added a new poster to our educational offerings in our online 
>storefront. It is a beautiful 14" x 20" photo montage created by artist 
>and monarch enthusiast Ron Brancato. The poster illustrates the entire 
>life cycle of the monarch butterfly and includes descriptive captions, 
>making it the perfect blend of art and education. This poster is available 
>in laminated and non-laminated (suitable for framing) formats for $15.
>
>You can order the poster now, but we will not begin shipping it until 
>March 15th. To view and/or order the poster visit:
>
>http://www.MonarchWatch.org/poster
>
>Alternatively, you can do a quick search for "monarch butterfly poster" in 
>Gulliver's Gift Shop (our online storefront) at
>
>http://Shop.MonarchWatch.org/
>
>Remember, each and every purchase you make in "Gulliver's Gift Shop" 
>supports Monarch Watch!
>
>==========================================
>
>9) How to Unsubscribe from this Update
>
>If you would like to be removed from this Monarch Watch Update mailing 
>list, please send an email message to
>
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>If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact us anytime.
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>Thanks!
>
>Monarch Watch
>http://www.MonarchWatch.org
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>
>This e-mail may be reproduced, printed, or otherwise redistributed as long 
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_____________________________
Kent P. McFarland
Conservation Biology Dept.
Vermont Institute of Natural Science
27023 Church Hill Road
Woodstock, VT   05091   USA
802-457-1053 x124
http://www.vinsweb.org/cbd/
[log in to unmask]
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