There is an arboretum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This arboretum has joined up with seventy other organizations in an initiative to help the plight of monarch butterflies. This initiative is called Monarch Joint Venture.
The mission of Monarch Joint Venture is to educate the public about monarch butterflies, as well as to protect the environments of monarchs. It consists of a variety of academic institutions, nongovernmental institutions, state agencies and federal agencies.
A leading player in the Monarch Joint Venture is Karen Oberhauser. Oberhauser is one of the researchers who cofounded the Monarch Joint Venture. She is the co-chair of its steering committee. She has had much experience with monarch research and conservation, as well as the establishment of programs to educate the public.
Monarch butterflies are very distinctive with their mostly orange and black coloration. Protecting them is a very real issue, since they have a critical role in the environment as pollinators, as well as creatures in the food chain.
During recent years, the numbers of monarchs counted have gone down. In February of 2017, an annual report about the number of butterflies counted was released. In 2016, the number of butterflies fell by about one third. By 2017, the number of butterflies was down by about 27 percent from the year before. When comparing the amount of monarch butterflies in 2017 to the amount of butterflies in the mid-1990s, scientists found out that the monarch population had decreased by eighty percent.
In the wintertime, millions of monarch butterflies migrate down to Mexico. It is quite a sight to see when tens of thousands of butterflies land on a single tree along the way of migration.
There are many threats that monarch butterflies face. One challenge that they face is climate change. Monarch butterflies can survive temperatures that are below freezing, but they cannot survive below freezing temperatures if they are wet. A sudden cold snap can be very devastating for monarch populations, which tend to reside in a very small range of areas.
Another challenge is habitat loss. They rely on milkweed to survive in their larval state. There is a very big problem in Mexico with illegal logging that affects the habitats of monarchs.