Milkweed Phenology

No we’re not talking about bumps on the head–that’s phrenology….

Common Milkweed

The Monarch Watch is always looking for new collaborative research ideas that will contribute to the every growing knowledge on monarch biology. The latest project is trying to get a handle on the phenology or calendar timing of the various events in the life cycle of different species of milkweeds, larval host plants and selected nectar plants. Consider participating in this project–it’s just getting going. You can read more, become involved and keep track of the project at the Monarch Watch Blog:

Coming soon to a website near you – a new project to record the phenology of milkweeds and nectar plants used by monarchs. Phenology is the term given to the study of the seasonal progression of natural events involving plants and animals. In this case, we are interested in recording a series of “firsts” (first emergence of shoots, first flower bud, etc.). This study is needed to monitor the effects of proximate seasonal conditions and long-term effects of climate change on the plants on which monarchs depend.

These kinds of data are also needed to help us sort out the impacts of human-induced (anthropogenic) changes in the environment and those due to weather and climate. In short, we need to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the changing availability of the host and nectar plant resources utilized by monarchs. We will monitor 6 species of milkweeds and 10 nectar plants. Our goal is to create maps with isoclines that show the progressive greening up of the resources used by monarchs. For this to be a successful project, one in which we can make comparisons of one year with another, we will need hundreds of you to contribute your “firsts” from all over the country. We hope you will participate. If you have a Monarch Waystation, this project is another good way to put it to use for monarchs.




One thought on “Milkweed Phenology”

  1. I am sad to acknowledge that I have never fully integrated Monarch ecology into my course but I have integrated more on global climate change after having read The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery

    The reading inspired me to find a few good articles on phenology that might interest the rest of you.

    1. Phenological changes reflect climate change in Wisconsin

    2. Climate change is affecting altitudinal migrants and hibernating species

    The pdf files of these article can be freely accessed via the archive.

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