Movement and egg laying in Monarchs: To move or not to move, that is the equation
MetadataShow full item record
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) populations are in decline in agricultural landscapes, in which genetically modified crops that are resistant to herbicides (‘Roundup Ready’) have resulted in the decimation of milkweed (Asclepias spp.) hosts over large areas due to the increased use of glyphosate. Movement is the key ecological process linking individual fitness traits to the utilization of sparse resources distributed across landscapes with emergent population level consequences. Often, movement ecology is highly simplified or even abstracted into a simple rate of flow between populations (i.e. a metapopulation) separated by a hostile ‘matrix’. Whereas, we can gain important insights into the population dynamic as a whole if we explore movement as an explicit, complex, behavioural process in which the matrix is not simply a void. We developed a spatially explicit individual-based model to describe host-seeking behaviour over the lifetime of a monarch butterfly, which utilizes hosts both aggregated in patches and scattered across the wider landscape as a substrate for laying eggs. We examine the simulated movement distances and spatial population distribution (eggs laid) as a result of different movement rules (directionality), perceptive distance (ability to find) and landscape configuration (how milkweed is distributed). This indicates the potential consequences of cleaning up the matrix (i.e. the obliteration of non-crop vegetation with Roundup) and changing habitat configurations at a landscape scale on individual movement behaviours and the emergent number of eggs laid, essentially the birth term in any population model. Our model generates movement distances of the order of 12 km commensurate with summer breeding monarchs and suggests that milkweed removal has reduced egg laying by up to 30%. We suggest possible amelioration strategies.
© 2016 Ecological Society of Australia. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Movement and egg laying in Monarchs: To move or not to move that is the equation, Austral Ecology, Vol41, pp. 154–167, 2016 which has been published in final form at 10.1111/aec.12285. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving (http://olabout.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-828039.html)
Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified