Mexican deforestation - Monarch butterfly

Paul Cherubini cherubini at
Thu Sep 14 18:10:59 EDT 2000

Tiser, Gene M wrote:
> I have read Mr. Paul Cherubini's commentaries with interest.  I was
> wondering if he would care to give us his background so as to allow us the
> opportunity to understand who he is, where his expertise lies, and which
> company, agency or university he represents?

I did this a few months ago. Check the archives. Horrifying reports
about the monarchs overwintering in Mexico have been appearing about
2 times a year for the past several years in the New York Times and many 
other North American papers. Typically, these end up turning out to be much 
ado about nothing. An example is provided below:

JANUARY 3, 1996
Monarch Butterflies Killed by Snow in Mexican Winter Home 

MEXICO CITY, Jan. 2 -  on Dec. 30, in a rare
cold spell, almost 12 inches of snow fell in the fir-topped mountain reserves 
where tens of millions of monarch butterflies were clustered for their winter
sojourn. Mexican Government environment officials estimate that the freeze 
killed up to 15 per cent of the monarch population. But Homero Aridjis, a
leading Mexican environmentalist, said the death rate could be as high as 
35 percent of the colony. The new monarch freeze is especially serious 
because it comes in the wake of an adverse migratory season for butterflies 
moving north from Mexico. 
MEXICO CITY (AP) Snowfall and a cold snap have killed millions of 
monarch butterflies at their wintering grounds in mountainous western
 Mexico. A preliminary survey of the butterfly sanctuaries by researchers
 indicates at least 30 percent of the 50 million to 60 million monarchs that
migrated there from the United States and Canada perished, a leading 
environmentalist said Tuesday. ``This is just devastating,'' said Homero 
Aridjis, leader of the Group of 100 environmental lobby. 

From: lpb at (Lincoln P. Brower)
Subject: Re:Mortality Estimates and Colony Sizes
Date: Wed, 07 Feb 1996 01:08:54 -0600

When I was at the Sierra Chincua on 11 January 1996, the colony 
had been badly impacted by the 31 December 1995 storm. Evidence for 
this was the low density of monarchs in the colony and the degree to 
which the butterflies had scattered after recovering from the stormy
From: lpb at (Lincoln P. Brower)
Subject: New York Times OpEd Article, Fri 25 Jan 96
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 00:14:12 -0600

>Homero Aridjis, poet laureate of Mexico City and President of the Group 
>of 100 writers, artists, and other free agents in Mexico City and elsewhere, 
>and Lincoln Brower will have an editorial letter
>in the New York Times on the significance of the recent freeze in Mexico 
>for the future of monarchs. This is an important call to action. Have a look at
>it on Friday 26 January 1996.-  Lincoln Brower. 

From: monarch at (Monarch Watch)
Subject: News from Mexico
Date: Sun, 04 Feb 1996 12:00:48 -0600

Although there have been numerous accounts in the press about the 
devastating effects of the December snow storm, three recent visitors to 
the El Rosario roost, Jane Ruffin, Harold Spanier and Brian Visser, report 
that the number of live monarchs at this roost are extraordinary. The
numbers of dead butterflies on the forest floor beneath roost do not 
seem to be excessive and guards at El Rosario are quoted as saying there 
are more monarchs at this site than last year. - Chip Taylor

From: monarch at (Monarch Watch)
Subject: Reports on the mortality of monarchs at El Rosario
Date: Tue, 06 Feb 1996 20:06:03 -0600

The following messages concern the mortality of monarchs observed by
two monarch experts,Walter Sakai and David Marriott, at El Rosario.
-Chip Taylor

>From Walter Sakai: 

Mortality was minimal. I would estimate that there was 2-3X more mortality 
when I visited the site at about the same time 2 years ago. 

From: David Marriott:

Local volunteers (ejidos), affiliated with the government of Michiocan, 
have been calculating the mortality rate at El Rosario by examining dead 
monarchs in areas measured by square meters. Their data shows that 95%
of monarchs dieby predation (mostly birds) and less than 5% from the snow
fall of December 19 to January 19. I can assure all of you that the snow fall 
had little effect on the mortality of monarchs at the El Rosario site. I have 
never seen so few monarchs dead on the ground, and I visit the site and 
talk to the natives two or three times a season.

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