Monarch butterfly

A monarch butterfly. An annual count of monarchs released in February 2017 confirmed butterfly numbers fell by nearly a third in 2016. Scientists also reported in 2017 the population was down by 27 percent from the previous year, and down by more than 80 percent from the mid-1990s.

Photo: Deborah E. Coogan

The first arboretum to partner with the Monarch Joint Venture is at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The arboretum has joined more than 70 institutions in the venture dedicated to researching monarch butterflies, conserving their habitat and educating people about the charismatic insects.

Arboretum director Karen Oberhauser, a leading monarch researcher, co-founded the Monarch Joint Venture while at the University of Minnesota and is currently co-chair of the venture’s steering committee.

She says the UW arboretum is a natural fit to join the federal and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and academic institutions cooperating to protect the monarchs.

“It’s a perfect partnership — the arboretum works on all areas of the MJV’s conservation plan with our conservation education programs, habitat conservation actions, and research,” Oberhauser said.

The partners collaborate on a conservation plan each year to establish pollinator-friendly habitat, provide educational resources and identify threats to monarch populations.

“The UW-Madison Arboretum inherited an astounding leader in monarch conservation, Dr. Karen Oberhauser,” said Wendy Caldwell, MJV coordinator. “Karen’s history with monarch conservation and the strength and foundation of the arboretum and its programs will be an incredible asset to the MJV.”

Oberhauser said the new partnership is a formal recognition of efforts already underway at the arboretum.

“When we preserve habitat for monarchs and educate people about what they can do for monarchs, we’re really doing things for a lot of other species at the same time,” Oberhauser said.

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