Ernest Williams

Ernest Williams, the William R. Kenan Professor of Biology emeritus and lecturer in biology, co-authored a letter that will be presented to the leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico when they meet for the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa on June 29.

The letter detailing the status of monarch butterflies was written with Homero Aridjis, a well-known Mexican poet and environmentalist, and internationally recognized monarch scientist Lincoln Brower, who has been studying monarchs for more than 60 years. This is the trio’s second letter to the heads of state – the first was presented in 2014.

Signed by more than 200 scientists, writers and artists, the letter urges the three countries to work together to reduce risks to monarch survival by protecting the butterflies’ breeding habitat in Mexico.

Over the years, Williams and Brower have collaborated on a number of monarch projects, including an article published in the summer issue of News of The Lepidopterists’ Society. “A conservation concern: how many monarchs are there?” presents data showing that despite annual variations, the long-term trend has shown the decline of overwintering monarch colonies in central Mexico.

Williams and Brower, along with several other researchers, were co-authors of an article on illegal logging in Mexico at the primary location of the monarch overwintering colonies. Titled “Illegal Logging of 10 Hectares of Forest in the Sierra Chincua Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Area in Mexico,” the article appears in the current issue of American Entomologist.

ADDENDUM: The three leaders released a statement concerning monarchs on June 29 at the conclusion of their meetings:

"We reaffirm our commitment to work collaboratively to achieve our long term goal of conserving North America’s Monarch migratory phenomena and to ensure that sufficient habitat is available to support the 2020 target for the eastern Monarch population.  Trilateral efforts to date have achieved significant successes across the range, including the restoration and enhancement of hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat.  We look forward to continued progress and action in the future, building on the population increase for eastern Monarchs observed in 2015."

View the complete plan and statement released by Prime Minster Trudeau’s office

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