3 years ago



of the commercial

of the commercial butterfly industry to attempt to sustain the genetic diversity within commercial populations, also has the potential to exacerbate population decline. Monarchs are very susceptible to diseases that can be transmitted among larvae, and mass production of monarchs facilitates disease transmission. Release of infected monarchs into the environment could threaten wild monarchs with increased exposure and infection (Altizer and de Roode 2010, p. 25). There are currently no requirements that butterfly breeders follow specific disease-prevention protocols, or that outside agencies conduct routine tests of captive stocks for diseases. Commercially-reared monarchs can be heavily infested with the parasite Ophyrocystis elektroscirrha (OE) (see:, discussed in the Disease section of this petition, below. Monarchs reared in captivity can also carry other pathogens including Serratia, Nosema and cytoplasmic viruses (Ibid.). A recent increase in disease in laboratory monarchs since 2004 coincides with an increase in the release of commercially-bred monarchs (Ibid). The spread of disease from captive-reared monarchs has high potential to negatively impact wild monarch populations, as has occurred with native bee species (Pyle et al. 2012). The levels of genetic diversity among commercially-reared monarchs are not known or regulated, and the release of large numbers of captive monarchs with low genetic diversity threatens wild populations with deleterious effects such as inbreeding depression. It could also contribute to the accumulation of deleterious genetic adaptations due to the accumulation of alleles in captivity that are mal-adaptive in the wild, as has been observed with hatchery salmon These deleterious adaptations can accumulate rapidly and can contribute to reduced survivorship of wild monarchs (Frankham 2008). The potential for captive-reared monarchs to transmit disease or undesirable genetic traits is high because of the vast number of commercially reared monarchs compared to wild monarchs. Though the exact number of monarchs sold commercially is unknown, there are an estimated 45 –60 butterfly farms in operation in the United States that distribute more than 11 million butterflies per year, most of which are monarchs or painted ladies (Vanessa cardui) (Altizer and de Roode 2010, p. 26; Pyle et al. 2012). Thus, it is likely that at least a few million monarchs are released into the wild annually, representing a substantial proportion of the overall monarch population (33.5 million wild monarchs estimated in the overwintering eastern population in 2013-2014, and less than half a million total western monarchs). A recent investigative report on this industry suggests that the commercial monarch industry is rapidly growing, in part due to the increasing popularity of releasing monarchs at weddings (Federman 2008). Overutilization via tourism activities should also be considered as a potential threat to monarch populations. Tourists gather annually to view monarch wintering colonies. While these activities have educational benefits, if conducted inappropriately they could also be harmful to monarch colonies. Ecotourism is a significant source of income for people living in and around the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico (Vidal et al. 2013). From 2002 to 2013 visitation numbers at monarch colonies in Mexico ranged from 54,500 to 133,000 people (Vidal et al. 2013, p. 184). To ensure the long-term conservation of overwintering forests in Mexico, the Monarch ESA Petition 74

international community and Mexican communities and authorities must take action to address the region’s pressing social and economic problems (Vidal et al. 2013, p. 184). Monarchs are widely used in scientific research for a number of purposes including studies of predation, mimicry, toxicology and chemical defense, physiology, neuroscience, development, pathology, and ecology, among others. A large and growing body of scientific research has contributed hundreds of publications relevant to monarch life history and habitat needs, population status, and conservation. Scientific research clearly contributes to monarch conservation and permitted research activities should continue after the monarch is protected under the ESA in a manner that ensures that wild populations are not harmed by research activities and that facilitates the permitting process for scientists. Monarchs are also popular subjects of citizen scientists, who engage in such activities as: observing and/or photographing all life stages of monarchs and milkweed and reporting these observations; censuses of eggs, larvae, and adults; collecting eggs and larvae and rearing them indoors, then releasing the adults; and collecting adults and tagging, then releasing, them. In addition to the valuable educational role that citizen science projects fulfill, many of these projects provide data that is helpful to understanding monarch conservation needs. Some of these citizen science programs include: Journey North, the Monarch Larval Monitoring Project, Monarch Alert, Correo Real, Monarchs in the Classroom, The Monarch Teacher Network, Monarch Watch, Southwest Monarch Study, the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, Monarchs Across Georgia, Monarch Monitoring Project, Monarch Health, and Monarchs Without Borders. Should the Fish and Wildlife Service list the monarch butterfly as a threatened species under the ESA, the agency should recognize the valuable role that citizen scientists play in monarch conservation and either waive the permit requirement for citizen scientists or make the permitting process easy, so that the listing will not hinder these activities. Children often rear monarch caterpillars at home. Petitioners request that upon listing, the Service develop guidance such that any take associated with rearing of up to ten wild monarchs per year by any person not engaged in commercial activity is not prohibited or subject to permitting requirements. See Appendix B of this petition for proposed rules to facilitate monarch butterfly conservation, science, citizen monitoring, and education. FACTOR THREE: DISEASE OR PREDATION Disease and predation are significant sources of mortality for monarchs. In light of recent population declines and the major threats facing monarch habitat, either predation or disease or both could quickly rise to population-level threats putting the monarch butterfly at risk of extinction. Disease Monarchs are threatened by disease, and this threat factor is magnified by habitat loss, reduced population size, global climate change, and release of captive-reared monarchs. Numerous Monarch ESA Petition 75

Parks for Monarchs
Increasing the availability of native milkweed - Monarch Lab
Monarch Butterfly Migration PowerPoint -
valley of the monarch butterfly - Steppes Discovery
Monarch Financial Holdings, Inc. 2009 Annual Report - Monarch Bank
MBNZT Calendar 2013 low - Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust
Figure 45.0 A monarch butterfly just after emerging from its cocoon
and ESA - DB Server Test Page - University of Idaho
EREN Turtle Population Study Project at ESA 2011, Austin TX by ...
Update: Petition to List 83 Reef-building Coral Species under the ...
Red Book of Butterflies in Turkey Red Book of Butterflies in Turkey
Recovery Plan for the El Segundo Blue Butterfly - U.S. Fish and ...
Petition to List under the ESA - National Marine Fisheries Service ...
Monarch Case Learning Tasks - Kinder Magic
Monarch butterfly quiz - Kinder Magic
Tracking climate impacts on the migratory monarch butterfly - Spark