Authors: Mark K Johnston*, The Field Museum, Marc P Lambruschi, The Field Museum
Topics: Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Environment
Keywords: Landscape analysis, connectivity, ecology, monarch butterfly, milkweed, corridor analysis, rights of way, habitat, conservation, Danaus plexippus, Midwest, regional
Session Type: Poster
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: Download
Over the last 20 years, due to the conversion of grasslands and the increased use of herbicides in agricultural practices, the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) population in the Midwest has dropped by 80%. To counteract this decline in monarch habitat, the US Fish and Wildlife Service calls for an increase of 1.8 billion additional stems of milkweed to return monarchs to an average population size. Transportation and utility rights of way (ROW) corridors present a big opportunity for increasing the total amount of habitat for pollinators. They may also serve as conservation corridors for monarch butterflies by linking together habitat areas that facilitate movement across the Midwest landscape toward additional breeding grounds to the north and east, and to assist with fall migration south. As climate changes, conservation corridors also play an important role in protecting biodiversity by providing passageways for wildlife and vegetation. In this study we use connectivity analysis to identify potential conservation corridors for the purpose of helping ROW organizations prioritize their conservation efforts. By overlaying transportation and utility corridors on top of these conservation corridors, we hope to prioritize restoration areas that bridge gaps and enhance movement through bottlenecks by broadening corridors where needed, and by providing alternative passageways. In this way, ROW organizations can help to increase their conservation efforts and maximize their impact by establishing or enhancing connective habitat corridors that help to link monarch breeding areas and provide passage during fall migration.