visit to the Monarch reserves (long)

Jim Mason Jim at
Mon Mar 10 09:49:24 EST 2003


Get a life.

Jim Mason, Naturalist
Jim at
Great Plains Nature Center
6232 E. 29th Street North
Wichita, KS 67220-2200
316-683-5499 x103 - voice
316-688-9555 - fax

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Cherubini" <monarch at>
To: "Leps-L" <LEPS-L at>
Sent: Friday, March 07, 2003 7:16 PM
Subject: Re: visit to the Monarch reserves (long)

> Jim Mason wrote:
> > Proceeds from the trip benefited the La Cruz Habitat Protection Project,
> > which grows trees to be planted in areas adjacent to the Monarch
> > These trees will eventually provide a source of both firewood and income
> > the landowners and reduce or hopefully eliminate the perceived need to
> > down the trees in the reserves, which is a grave threat to the
> > integrity of the reserves.
> Jim, could you explain how forest thinning is a "grave threat"? The
forests in
> the central Mexican highlands are not virgin, but have been selectively
thinned for
> centuries.  And for centuries the monarchs have been overwintering
> successfully in the thinned forests.  I am unaware of any study that has
> conclusively linked forest thinning to a gravely increased level of
> mortality. To the contrary, last winter 75% of the monarchs reportedly
> during a freeze at the Chincua colony habitat where the forest is
> thick and mortality was light where the forest is much thinner (the Cerro
> colony habitat).
> > Initially, he had some difficulty finding landowners who were
> > willing to quit row crops and plant a forest instead.
> Could you expand a bit on this?  Mexican farmers, like USA farmers, grow
> row crops to feed themselves or to earn an income.  If a Mexican landowner
> pursuaded to grow a forest instead of row crops, how does he make up for
> the lost food or income?
> > The first length of the road was very dry and dusty with plowed fields
> > either side.  Of course, this was the dry season down there, but still
> > was very obvious the impact cultivation has on the ecological health of
> > area.  Scattered monarchs were seen along the way, particularly at mud
> > puddles.
> Yes, the monarchs were obtaining drinking water from mud puddles, but they
> were artificial mud puddles created by the same human disturbances (the
road and
> land cultivation) that created the dust.  Therefore, does the land
> really negatively impact the monarch?
> > The trail formed a natural highway for the Monarchs, and the rustle of
> > wings as they flew around us was a constant presence.
> Wasn't "the trail that formed a natural highway" actually an artificial
> clearing in the forest created by logging?
> > In places, little rivulets from the hillside spilled across the road,
> > forming ideal puddling sites.  These were absolutely covered with
> Yes, but wasn't it logging that created the road which in turn
> created the water puddles the butterflies were drinking from?
> > The second reserve we visited was Cerro Pelon.  That was an even more
> > spectacular sight.  We arrived around midday and the road leading up to
> > reserve was a river of orange butterflies!  The dispersion of the
> > downhill for water and nectar was immense. We had to drive slowly to
give them
> > plenty of maneuvering room to go around us.
> Yes, but once again, wasn't it logging that created the road through the
> forest which in turn created the path that the butterflies were using
> to fly to water and nectar sources?  Here is a picture of monarchs
> a paved highway (created by logging) next to the Herrada colony downhill
> water sources (muddy dirt roads).
> Also didn't these water and nectar sources occur on disturbed ground (on
> roadsides, & on farmland) that was originally forested as we can see
> in this picture
> Thus, wasn't it logging that created the water and nectar habitats?
> > To me, this is the way ecotourism should be done.  While you get to see
> > "neat stuff" you also directly help to mitigate the "bad stuff" that
> > threatens the neat stuff.
> What "bad stuff" is really threatening the "neat stuff"?  Seems to me
> interpretation could be that the so called "bad stuff" is actually
> habitat for the "neat stuff".
> Paul Cherubini
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