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Article

High Survivorship of First-Generation Monarch Butterfly Eggs to Third Instar Associated with a Diverse Arthropod Community

1
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, TX 75218, USA
2
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Texas AM University—Commerce, Commerce, TX 75428, USA
3
Houston Zoo, 6200 Herman Park Drive, Houston, TX 77030, USA
4
Environmental Health and Safety, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX 76019, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: David G. James and Kathleen L. Prudic
Insects 2021, 12(6), 567; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12060567
Received: 25 May 2021 / Revised: 16 June 2021 / Accepted: 19 June 2021 / Published: 21 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Butterfly Biodiversity and Conservation)
The eastern migratory population of the monarch butterfly has been the focus of extensive conservation efforts in recent years. However, there are gaps in our knowledge about the survival of first, or spring generation, monarchs in their core areas of Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. This is important because the spring generation represents the first stage of annual recovery from overwinter mortality. It is, therefore, an important stage for monarch conservation efforts. This study showed that, in the context of a complex arthropod community in north Texas, first generation monarch survival was high. The study found that survival was not directly related to predators on the host plant, but was higher on host plants that harbored a greater number and variety of other, non-predatory arthropods. This is possibly because the presence of alternate, preferable prey enabled monarch eggs and larvae to be overlooked by predators. The implication is that, at least in the southern U.S., monarch conservation should consider strategies that promote diverse functional arthropod communities.
Based on surveys of winter roost sites, the eastern migratory population of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) in North America appears to have declined in the last 20 years and this has prompted the implementation of numerous conservation strategies. However, there is little information on the survivorship of first-generation monarchs in the core area of occupancy in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana where overwinter population recovery begins. The purpose of this study was to determine the survivorship of first-generation eggs to third instars at a site in north Texas and to evaluate host plant arthropods for their effect on survivorship. Survivorship to third instar averaged 13.4% and varied from 11.7% to 15.6% over three years. The host plants harbored 77 arthropod taxa, including 27 predatory taxa. Despite their abundance, neither predator abundance nor predator richness predicted monarch survival. However, host plants upon which monarchs survived often harbored higher numbers of non-predatory arthropod taxa and more individuals of non-predatory taxa. These results suggest that ecological processes may have buffered the effects of predators and improved monarch survival in our study. The creation of diverse functional arthropod communities should be considered for effective monarch conservation, particularly in southern latitudes. View Full-Text
Keywords: monarch butterfly; Danaus plexippus; arthropods; community structure; survivorship monarch butterfly; Danaus plexippus; arthropods; community structure; survivorship
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MDPI and ACS Style

Stevenson, M.; Hudman, K.L.; Scott, A.; Contreras, K.; Kopachena, J.G. High Survivorship of First-Generation Monarch Butterfly Eggs to Third Instar Associated with a Diverse Arthropod Community. Insects 2021, 12, 567. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12060567

AMA Style

Stevenson M, Hudman KL, Scott A, Contreras K, Kopachena JG. High Survivorship of First-Generation Monarch Butterfly Eggs to Third Instar Associated with a Diverse Arthropod Community. Insects. 2021; 12(6):567. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12060567

Chicago/Turabian Style

Stevenson, Misty, Kalynn L. Hudman, Alyx Scott, Kelsey Contreras, and Jeffrey G. Kopachena 2021. "High Survivorship of First-Generation Monarch Butterfly Eggs to Third Instar Associated with a Diverse Arthropod Community" Insects 12, no. 6: 567. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12060567

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