Brower replies- The most recent ranting about monarch butterfly conservation

neil at neil at
Thu Oct 9 14:49:56 EDT 2003

Professor Brower asked me to pass on this message to these lists.

Neil Jones

From: Lincoln P. Brower brower at
Subject: The most recent ranting about monarch butterfly conservation
by Mr. Cherubini.

To whom it may concern:

To those who may seriously consider taking Mr. Paul Cherubini's
October 2003 criticisms of L. P. Brower's recent (4 October 2003)
lecture to the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History in California,
I suggest perusing the following three scientific papers:

1) Brower, L.P., Kust, D.R., Rendon-Salinas, E., Serrano, E.G.,
Kust, K.R., Miller, J., Fernandez del Rey, C., & Pape, K. (In
press  2003). Catastrophic winter storm mortality of monarch
butterflies in Mexico during January 2002. In: The Monarch Butterfly:
Biology and Conservation (Editors. K.M. Oberhauser  M.
Solensky). Cornell University Press, Ithaca.

2) Brower, L.P., Castilleja, G., Peralta, A., Lopez-Garcia, J.,
Bojorquez-Tapia, L., Diaz, S., Melgarejo, D.,  Missrie, M.
(2002). Quantitative changes in forest quality in a principal
overwintering area of the monarch butterfly in Mexico: 1971 to
1999. Conservation Biology, 16, 346-359.

3) Bojorquez, L.A., Brower, L.P., Castilleja, G.,
Sánchez-Colón, S., Hernández, M., Calvert, W.H., Díaz, S.,
Gómez-Priego, P., Alcantar, G., Melgarejo, E.D., Solares, M.J.,
Gutiérrez, L., Juárez, M.d.L. (2003). Mapping expert
knowledge: redesigning the monarch butterfly biosphere reserve.
Conservation Biology, 17, 367 - 379.

The first paper (still in press) documents the winter storm mortality
of overwintering monarch butterflies in Mexico that occurred in
January 2002. One quarter of a billion monarchs were estimated
to have been killed in two of several known colonies, all of which
were impacted by a powerful and widespread storm and cold
front. The second publication documents that the monarchs'
overwintering forest within the 1986 presidentially decreed reserve
has been degraded by 44% as well as heavily fragmented over a 28 year
period, through January 1999. The third publication describes the
process and rationale by which the new 2000 presidential decree
increased the supposedly protected overwintering area from 62 to 217
square miles. Research in progress with colleagues from the
University of Mexico, NASA, Lynchburg College and Sweet Briar College
indicates that extensive illegal logging is currently occurring
within the supposedly protected areas. When these data are published,
they will be available for public scrutiny.

The exact number of years it will take for the current and increasing
logging to irreversibly disrupt the migration of the monarch's
eastern population is always an unknown. What we do know is
that the forests within the tiny area of Mexico in which hundreds of
millions of monarchs overwinter is being rapidly degraded.
Denial of this is yet another example of the ostrich-like behavior of
the more extreme members of the anti-conservation movement who choose
to obfuscate hard scientific evidence in order to advance their
political positions.

Lincoln P. Brower
Research Professor of Biology
Sweet Briar College


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