“Butterfly mortality and salvage logging from the March 2016 storm in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico,” co-authored by Ernest Williams, the William R. Kenan Professor of Biology Emeritus and lecturer in biology, appears in the fall issue of American Entomologist.
The article presents the results of a study by Williams and his long-time collaborator Lincoln Brower of Sweet Briar College. Pablo Jaramillo-López and M. Isabel Ramírez of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, David Kust of Breck School, and Daniel Slayback of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center also contributed to the study.
The research followed an extraordinarily strong storm in the monarch overwintering grounds in Mexico; a combination of high winds with rain and freezing temperatures produced high mortality among the butterflies remaining in the overwintering colonies. The government's subsequent decisions to allow salvage logging of downed trees led to further damage to the forest.
Previous studies have shown how important the forest is for monarch survival since it buffers them against freezing. In an era of changing climate, severe storms like this one may occur more frequently.
Another study by Williams and his collaborators at Boston University was published in the September issue of the International Journal of Biometeorology. “Climate effects on late-season flight times of Massachusetts butterflies” appeared online in the spring.