Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Americans would pay to help monarch butterflies

Date:
October 28, 2013
Source:
United States Geological Survey
Summary:
Americans place high value on butterfly royalty. A just-released study suggests they are willing to support monarch butterfly conservation at high levels, up to about $6.5 billion dollars if extrapolated to all US households. If even a small percentage of the population acted upon this reported willingness, the cumulative effort would likely translate into a large, untapped potential for conservation of the iconic butterfly.

Monarch Butterfly (danaus plexippus).
Credit: manuelteles / Fotolia

Americans place high value on butterfly royalty. A recent study suggests they are willing to support monarch butterfly conservation at high levels, up to about 6 billion dollars if extrapolated to all U.S. households.

If even a small percentage of the population acted upon this reported willingness, the cumulative effort would likely translate into a large, untapped potential for conservation of the iconic butterfly.

Monarch butterfly populations have been declining across Mexico, California and other areas of the United States since 1999. A 2012 survey at the wintering grounds of monarchs in Mexico showed the lowest colony size ever recorded.

"The multigenerational migration of the monarch butterfly is considered one of the world's most spectacular natural events," said Jay Diffendorfer, a USGS scientist and the study's lead author. "However, managing migratory species is difficult because they can cross international borders and depend on many geographic areas for survival."

Much of the decline in monarch numbers has been blamed on the loss of milkweed, the native plants on which monarch caterpillars feed.

"While many factors may be affecting monarch numbers, breeding, migrating, and overwintering habitat loss are probably the main culprits," said Karen Oberhauser, a monarch biologist at the University of Minnesota and a co-author of the study. "In the U.S., the growing use of genetically-modified, herbicide-tolerant crops, such as corn and soybeans, has resulted in severe milkweed declines and thus loss of breeding habitat."

The authors suggest that the universal popularity of monarchs could encourage a market for monarch-friendly plants.

"This is the first nation-wide, published, economic valuation survey of the general public for an insect. The study indicates that economic values of monarch butterflies are potentially large enough to mobilize people for conservation planting and funding habitat conservation," said John Loomis, the lead economist on the study from Colorado State University.

"The life cycle of monarchs creates opportunities for untapped market-based conservation approaches," Diffendorfer continued. "Ordinary households, conservation organizations, and natural resource agencies can all plant milkweed and flowering plants to offset ongoing losses in the species' breeding habitat."

According to the annual survey of the National Gardening Association, households that identify as "do-it-yourself lawn and gardeners" spent $29.1 billion in related retail sales in 2012.

"By reallocating some of those purchases to monarch-friendly plants, people would be able to contribute to the conservation of the species as well as maintain a flower garden," said Oberhauser. "Helping restore the monarch's natural habitat, and potentially the species' abundance, is something that people can do at home by planting milkweed and other nectar plants."

Unfortunately, many plants purchased by gardeners have been treated with systemic insecticides that can kill both pollinators that consume the nectar, and caterpillars, like monarchs, that eat the leaves.

"This study shows that not only might consumers pay more for monarch-friendly milkweeds grown without systemic insecticides in the potting soil, but also that consumers might be more interested overall in buying nectar-producing plants or milkweeds if they knew a small percentage of sales will be donated to habitat conservation," said Diffendorfer.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by United States Geological Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jay E. Diffendorfer, John B. Loomis, Leslie Ries, Karen Oberhauser, Laura Lopez-Hoffman, Darius Semmens, Brice Semmens, Bruce Butterfield, Ken Bagstad, Josh Goldstein, Ruscena Wiederholt, Brady Mattsson, Wayne E. Thogmartin. National valuation of monarch butterflies indicates an untapped potential for incentive-based conservation. Conservation Letters, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/conl.12065

Cite This Page:

United States Geological Survey. "Americans would pay to help monarch butterflies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028162959.htm>.
United States Geological Survey. (2013, October 28). Americans would pay to help monarch butterflies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028162959.htm
United States Geological Survey. "Americans would pay to help monarch butterflies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028162959.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins