Karen Oberhauser is a Professor in the Dept. of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota, where she and her students conduct research on several aspects of monarch butterfly ecology. Her research depends on traditional lab and field techniques, as well as the contributions of a variety of audiences through citizen science, and she and her students have published over peer-reviewed 100 papers that focus on monarch biology and conservation. Her strong interest in promoting a citizenry with a high degree of scientific and environmental literacy led to the development of a science education program that involves courses for both formal and non-formal educators, and opportunities for youth to engage in research and share their findings with broad audiences. In 1996, she and graduate student Michelle Prysby started a nationwide Citizen Science project called the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, which continues to engage hundreds of volunteers throughout North America. Karen is passionate about the conservation of the world’s biodiversity, and believes that the connections her projects promote between monarchs, humans, and the natural world promote meaningful conservation action. She is the chair of the Monarch Joint Venture, and a founding officer of the Monarch Butterfly Fund. In 2013, Karen received a White House Champion of Change award for her work with Citizen Science.
Dwindling numbers for an iconic insect: A conservation biologist ponders moving beyond the documentation of declines
Monarch butterflies populations have been declining over the last 20 years. Because insect numbers are notoriously difficult to assess, and because they often show large year to year fluctuations, simply documenting this decline has been a challenge. It is now important to move beyond simple documentation, and toward responding to the challenge posed by monarch conservation, and insect conservation in general. Monarchs are negatively impacted by many human activities, and various scientists and monarch advocates have implicated habitat degradation and loss, pesticide use, climate change, vehicular collisions, invasive species, and pathogen spread in their dwindling numbers.
In this presentation, I’ll describe the amazing biology of migratory monarch populations, and the work of citizens and scientists in documenting monarch numbers at all stages of their migratory cycle. I’ll then discuss threats to monarchs, and potential responses to these threats. Because conservation biology must be, at its essence, a science of hope, my focus is on positive changes as well as on the challenges posed by declining monarch numbers.
We're looking forward to seeing you in May!
Pre-Conference Workshops and Field Trips that are FULL - Sinks, Springs and Swallows: A Karst Field Trip; Canoe Trip on the Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge; Henslow's Sparrows at Great River Bluffs State Park