Characterizing New Wintering Sites for Monarch Butterfly Colonies in Sierra Nevada, Mexico

Insects. 2020 Jun 21;11(6):384. doi: 10.3390/insects11060384.


Every year, Danaus plexippus (Linnaeus, 1758) travels to hibernate in oyamel fir forests located between the limits of the states of Michoacán and Mexico in Mexico. Climate change and anthropogenic actions are diminishing oyamel fir forests in Mexico, putting pressure on the habitats of monarch butterflies. In the last decade, new colonies outside their usual range have been predicted through modeling and reported by the National Commission on Protected Areas of Mexico. The objectives of the study were to recover information on the historical and new hibernation sites, reported or modeled, from different literature sources. We also aimed to perform a bioclimatic and forest biometric characterization of new monarch butterfly colonies located in Sierra Nevada in Mexico to provide information to aid in conservation strategies for the monarch butterfly population. We conducted field trips to georeference the colonies at sites located in the Atlautla municipality in Mexico State. Climatic, topographic, and forest biometric variables were used to characterize the sites physically. It was found that the butterfly's roosts occurred at a higher elevation than those recorded by other sources. The locations where the monarch's colonies were established, in the east of Mexico State, provide information relevant to defining and developing policies for their conservation.

Keywords: climatic data; forest biometrics; habitat; monarch butterfly; oyamel fir forest.