An Analysis of the Current Climatic Factors Hindering California’s Central Coast Monarch Butterfly Population (Danaus plexippus)

Daniel Fernandez


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The city of Pacific Grove’s beloved species of butterfly Danaus plexippus, or the Monarch butterfly is a once-plentiful pollinator species that is critical to the health of many plant communities. Monarch butterflies are unique in many ways, but one key characteristic is their ability to follow their long migration pattern over the span of several generations. Because of this, Monarchs have several locations along the migration path in which they rely on certain plant species in order to reproduce and continue migrating. There are certain ecosystem functions that rely on the temporary presence of the species. It is known that the Monarch population has been decreasing steadily for some time now, and this can be predominantly attributed to urban development or habitat loss. However, with the recent intensity and span of wildfires in California, the monarch butterfly is facing more severe loss. Existing sanctuaries along the migratory path are suffering and farmland where monarchs often find necessary plant communities have been rapidly destroyed by fire. This project aims to analyze the relationship between wildfires, yearly temperatures, and the dwindling population of Monarch butterflies.

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