Delighted to announce that former PhD student, Dr Tyler Flockhart has been awarded a Liber Ero Fellowship to continue his ground-breaking work on monarch butterfly conservation.
Project: Developing optimal conservation plans for migratory monarch butterflies
Primary mentor institutions: University of Guelph (Dr. Ryan Norris), CSIRO (Dr. Tara Martin), University of Queensland (Dr. Richard Fuller), David Suzuki Foundation (Dr. Faisal Moola), WWF-Canada (Dr. Robert Rangeley)
Summary: Migratory animals make up a large proportion of biodiversity in Canada and globally but multiple pressures across their migratory pathways threaten their future. Monarch butterflies are perhaps the best-known migratory insect in the world because of their unique annual migrations from their breeding grounds in Canada and the United States to their wintering grounds in Mexico. In the last 20 years, monarch butterflies have declined by more than 95% but addressing this immediate conservation crisis is a complex, shared responsibility amongst the aforementioned countries. How then should we best invest our conservation resources both within Canada and internationally and what type of population response should we expect? I propose to address these questions using i) year-round population dynamics to inform decision models to sequentially allocate scarce conservation resources across the annual cycle; and ii) targeted experiments and linear optimization to determine the tradeoff between investing resources to increase breeding habitat quantity or improve habitat quality at the minimal cost. This analysis will set a benchmark outlining the dynamic links between global change, population dynamics, and conservation decision-making for migratory animals.