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[Solved]What are the reasons of the decline in the population of Monarch butterflies in north America?

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[Solved]What are the reasons of the decline in the population of Monarch butterflies in north America?

Project Plan Document



Project outline - This part of the plan requires you to define the Project and what you want to achieve in detail.

7 marks

Project title

What are the reasons of the decline in the population of Monarch butterflies in north America?



What are your aims and objectives (that is, what issue-related question are you addressing)? Quote the question and cite the one (or more) objectives that you feel are inherent in it.

The aim is to find out why are the population of Monarch butterflies declining. Some of the key causes that will be analysed include: The use of genetically modified, herbicide-resistant crops that affect the needed milkweed and nectar rich habitat; excessive deforestation in major parts of North America; and the prevalent severe weather cycles today.



Give some brief background and a rationale for your choice of Project.

Over the past 25 years, 90 % of the Monarch butterflies have been eliminated. If this continues the Monarch butterflies will be completely extinct (Save the butterfly, n.g). In addition, it is important to create awareness of the monarch butterfly’s life cycle and habitat as well as the importance of conserving the insects and its habitat. This can only be effectively addressed if the causes of the decline are well understood.


What voice are you adopting?

I would like to be a journalist from a scientific magazine. Thus, detailed research and founded statistics will be required as well as arguments that have scientific evidence which present the identified causes of the decline in Monarch butterflies population.

Are you presenting your web pages as a personal opinion or on behalf of a particular constituency?

In such an issue, it would be appropriate to present the concerns on behalf of specific constituency. For instance, I intend to report on behalf of the US Forest Services which is a government body mandated to protect the forest and its dependants such as forests, wild animals and insects.



Who is your target audience?

The scientific community. However, as a Journalist I will use the media to communicate to them and hence it is inevitable to also target other involved stakeholders like general public and interested groups since some of the causes of the decline are as a result of human activities that are harmful to the environment. Nonetheless, the use of scientific language may be a barrier may be a barrier to common citizens and hence the major target audience will be informed citizens on matters environment, conservation and chemical pollution.    


Which course themes (governance, uncertainty, globalization and sustainability) does your Project address and in what way?

Governance, sustainability and uncertainty. The issue of using genetically modified, herbicide-resistant crops that affect the needed milkweed and nectar rich habitat and that of excessive deforestation are largely governance issues that can only be mitigated or eliminated with effective legislations. On the other hand, the severe weather cycles that are prevalent today in the North America region addresses the issue of uncertainty the natural catastrophes can have on other living organisms. Equally, on the theme of sustainability the research will seek to find means through which the monarch butterfly will be conserved so that the future generations can enjoy its benefits and beauty. Finally, on the theme of globalization, the identified cause of the decline are resulting from the effects of globalization which needs to be addressed so that they can work for and not against nature and other living organisms.   Therefore, these themes will target institutions and factors that can directly help to address the identified causes of the decline of the Monarch butterflies.



What level(s) of spatial scale does your project operate on (global, international, national, local)?

Continental (USA, Mexico and Canada). This is in the recognition that the highest population of the Monarch butterflies is found in this zone. More so, it is reported that the yearly migration cycle of the monarch butterfly is among the most spectacular in the insect globally making their population decline to be referred to as an “endangered natural phenomenon”. Accordingly, their migration is highly reliant on conservation of habitats in all the three North American countries (Canada, the United States, and Mexico). Therefore, the migratory routes or the Monarch butterflies will be very significant when identifying the population of the insect and when conducting research on the involved habitats to evidence the direct cause of their decline. 



Skills, resources and methods - This part of the plan relates to the demands the project is likely to make on you.

8 marks

What course skills will you use to achieve the Project objectives? (See Table 1 in Appendix 1 of the Guide to the End-of-Module Assessment for a list.)

To achieve the project objectives I will use communication skills, cognitive skills, research skills, numerical skills as well as self-management and lifelong learning abilities.



What resources do you think you will need/use in order to achieve the Project objectives (in terms of materials, equipment, time and sources of information and/or services)?

This project will require a range of resources including internet access, computers, course materials, scientific electronic databases, journals, and open university staff. The project will also require time resources.

Owing to the intricate nature of the project objectives, I will require a lot of time to gather and analyse materials collected for the study. In addition, I may require to conduct additional interviews with contact individuals through face to face interviews or email or post. Consequently, the timeline of the project will be solely determined by my ability to effectively analyse and draw conclusions from the data gathered. However, my working time plan will be organized as follows

Gathering project data: 20 hours

Analysis and evaluation of data: 8 hours

Follow up on emergent themes: 7 hours

Writing up the final report: 8 hours


I estimate that the data collection process will require 2 to 2.5 hours every week for about 9 weeks so that I have ample time to review the data, identify key themes and still have enough time for seeking additional clarification from the involved parties.  

It should be noted that the number of hours indicated in this tentative time plan correspond with the total time allocated for the course in which I am taking the project. Thus, I may take a little more time or less depending on the responses I receive from study participants.


What methods will you employ to acquire the information you need?

Primarily, I will conduct an internet search to elicit various journal articles and papers that are relevant to the subject of the project. To seek more information I will rely on the references within the articles obtained in the preliminary search. I will specifically begin my literature search from the US Forest Service websites and move progressively to other websites maintained by organizations involved in the conservation of monarch butterflies. I will also engage in communication with key contact persons listed on the websites either through telephone calls or through email correspondences. The idea is to ensure that the information gathered is consistent and accurate.

Another great source of information is the open university library whereby I will execute a search for literature related to monarch butterflies.



(a)            Will you collect quantitative and/or qualitative data? (If so, give brief details.)

Note: quantitative data are ‘numerical’ data where things can be quantified, e.g. the number of whales killed each year; qualitative data are ‘non-numerical’, e.g. a list of words representing how people feel about whaling.

 I will collect mainly qualitative data since the intention is to offer a descriptive account of the reasons related to the decline of the Monarch butterfly population.



(b)            Will you collect any original data of your own? (If so, give brief details.)

No. there are involved costs are above my reach hence I will solely depend on findings from other researches on the topic. Secondly, there is inadequate time to conduct a field trip and analyse the collected data. 



(c)            If you are collecting some original data, give a description of the methods you intend to use to do this (e.g. questionnaire, sampling survey, statistical test, etc.).


No. As earlier noted I will not be collecting any original data hence I do not intend to use any data collection method.


(d)           How will you avoid bias in your data collection? How will you ensure that your data are robust and representative?

Getting my information for multiple sources. Equally, I will use government documentations on the issue as well as interested parties (activists) so that I can have views from either side. However, the use of scientific journals and peer reviewed articles will be very helpful since they are credible sources for a secondary data collection strategy.



Word count =

Note: your word count should of course exclude the text making up this document itself, as well as your sources (which do not contribute towards the word count). Some word processing software cannot do a word count for only part of a table and will always count the whole table. So we suggest you do a word-count of the ‘empty’ plan document before you start to complete it (it should be approximately 650 words, depending on which software you use). Do another word count when you have completed all of your plan except for entering your list of sources. You can then subtract the number of words you got from counting the ‘empty’ plan from the word count of your completed plan to get the word count for your own entries excluding sources, which should not exceed 1000 words. Don’t forget to insert your list of sources after doing the final word count!


Sources - This is where you indicate how much research you have already undertaken.

Cite any relevant and useful sources of information or services you have identified so far (e.g. websites, books, articles, people, organizations, broadcast programmes, software, etc.).

Give a complete reference to the source plus a sentence or two describing the type of information or service provided.

Give the nature of the provider’s constituency (e.g. NGO, academic body, business interest, government department, individual view).

Note: this table has been designed so that individual rows will split across pages but after downloading it from the course website you may find that it has reverted to ‘non-splitting’ mode so that your entries may disappear off the end of a page. To avoid this problem happening for your list of sources, extra rows have been inserted below for you to use as necessary. Feel free to add more extra rows in this table wherever you feel you need them.


Eade, K (2015), Save the monarch butterfly.

This book talks about what are the causes behind the decline of the monarch butterfly and the many ways that it can be saved on different levels of governance.

DeMarco, E. (2015). Monarch butterfly studies tell a perplexing tale. Science. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/08/monarch-butterfly-studies-tell-perplexing-tale

The article highlights on the importance of milkweed to female monarch butterflies since they lay their eggs on the plant’s leaves. Hence there is a need to conserve these plants.

Field, C. (2016). Monarch butterfly population in decline due to these three critical factors | Cottage Life. [online] Cottage Life. Available at: http://cottagelife.com/environment/monarch-butterfly-population-in-decline-due-to-these-three-critical-factors [Accessed 27 May 2016].

This article outlines three key causes of the decline in the monarch butterfly population. Thse three key factos include use of GM crops and herbicides, deforestation and severe weather conditions. 

Davis, A. and Dyer, L. (2015). Long-Term Trends in Eastern North American Monarch Butterflies: A Collection of Studies Focusing on Spring, Summer, and Fall Dynamics:. Ann Entomol Soc Am, 108(5), pp.661-663.

In this journal the authors focuses on numerous dynamics that affect the life of monarch butterflies in the North-America region clearly demonstrating thir decline over the years. 

Howard, E. and Davis, A. (2015). Investigating Long-Term Changes in the Spring Migration of Monarch Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) Using 18 Years of Data from Journey North, a Citizen Science Program. Ann Entomol Soc Am, 108(5), pp.664-669.

The article seeks to insist on the significance of long term investment in the migratory corridors of monarch butterflies by looking at the trendd for the past two decades.

Stenoien, C., Nail, K. and Oberhauser, K. (2015). Habitat Productivity and Temporal Patterns of Monarch Butterfly Egg Densities in the Eastern United States. Ann Entomol Soc Am, 108(5), pp.670-679.

The article evaluates the breeding patterns, as well as environmental factors that contribute to it among monarch butterfly colonies. Wholesomely, the article aims at sensitizing on the importance of protecting the breeding ground of these insects.

Badgett, G. and Davis, A. (2015). Population Trends of Monarchs at a Northern Monitoring Site: Analyses of 19 Years of Fall Migration Counts at Peninsula Point, MI. Ann Entomol Soc Am, 108(5), pp.700-706.

The article relies on a two decade data to clearly demonstrate the population trend of the monarch butterfly. This will be helpful since it demonstrates that the population of the insects is actually on the decline. 

Crewe, T. and Mccracken, J. (2015). Long-term Trends in the Number of Monarch Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) Counted on Fall Migration at Long Point, Ontario, Canada (1995–2014). Ann Entomol Soc Am, 108(5), pp.707-717.

The article relies on a two decade data to clearly demonstrate the population trend of the monarch butterfly. This will be helpful since it demonstrates that the population of the insects is actually on the decline. 

Myatt, J. (2016). Monarch Butterfly | Saving Wildlife | Pacific Southwest Region. [online] Fws.gov. Available at: https://www.fws.gov/cno/es/Monarch/Monarch.cfm [Accessed 27 May 2016].

The webpage tells of the significance of the monarch butterfly to nature including pollination and this forms the basis of the fact that they should be saved, conserved or protected.

U.S. Forest Service Rangeland Management Botany Program, (2016). Monarch Butterfly in North America. [online] Fs.fed.us. Available at: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/Monarch_Butterfly/index.shtml [Accessed 27 May 2016].

The website outlines the monarch butterflies’ characteristics and why they are significant to nature thus the US forest department uses this platform to express concerns that the insects are endangered. 

Flockhart, D., Pichancourt, J., Norris, D., & Martin, T. (2014). Unravelling the annual cycle in a migratory animal: breeding-season habitat loss drives population declines of monarch butterflies. Journal Of Animal Ecology84(1), 155-165. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12253

The article evaluates the breeding patterns, as well as environmental factors that contribute to it among monarch butterfly colonies. Generally, the article aims at sensitizing on the importance of protecting the breeding ground and migratory routes of these insects so that they can be conserved.         

Pleasants, J. & Oberhauser, K. (2012). Milkweed loss in agricultural fields because of herbicide use: effect on the monarch butterfly population. Insect Conservation and Diversity6(2), 135-144. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-4598.2012.00196.x

The article analysis the loss of milkweed especialy in agricultural fields due to excessive or prolonged use of herbicides which consequently affects the population of the monarch butterfly.

Baum, K. (2016). Butterfly Conservation in North America: Efforts to Help Save Our Charismatic Microfauna. Jaret C.Daniels, editor. 2015. Springer Science + Business Media B.V., Dordrecht, Netherlands. 192 pp. $109.00 hardcover. ISBN 9789401798518. Jour. Wild. Mgmt. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21082

In this journal the author seeks to demonstrate how activists are sourcing for funding and making the initiative to save the monarch butterfly. More so, the article insits on the importance of their conservation gib=ven the many benefits that the insects have on the environment 

Vidal, O., López-García, J., & Rendón-Salinas, E. (2013). Trends in Deforestation and Forest Degradation after a Decade of Monitoring in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico.Conservation Biology28(1), 177-186. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12138

The article highlights on the effects of deforestation on the population of monarch butterflies since it destroys their breeding ground and also exposes them to harsh environments. It objective is to determine the extent to which this cause affects the insects thus resulting to its decline.

Milius, S. (2011). Life: Data may point to monarch decline: Butterflies overwintering in Mexico appear to be on the wane. Sci News179(9), 18-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/scin.5591790922

The author illustrates how the population of monarch butterflies has decline especially in Mexico due to use of herbicides and excessive population accordingly they connect these factors to environmental issues that are causing harsh weather conditions. 

PSC gives: utilities take. (2002). Photovoltaics Bulletin2002(7), 4. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s1473-8325(02)00712-5

The article notes that the effects of human activities as they try to satisfy their utility has negative consequences on the environment and thus they are a major contribution to the decline in monarch population in the Northern America region. 

García, J. (2011). Deforestation and forest degradation in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, Mexico, 2003–2009. Journal of Maps7(1), 626-633. http://dx.doi.org/10.4113/jom.2011.1163

The article singles out deforestation and forest degradation as the major causes of destroying natural habitats and breeding grounds for the insects. Thus, they insist that governments should employ measures that seek to protect forest conserve since in the long-run such initiatives protects the environment and its dependents.

Bradley, C. & Altizer, S. (2005). Parasites hinder monarch butterfly flight: implications for disease spread in migratory hosts. Ecology Letters8(3), 290-300. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2005.00722.x

This article emphasises on the negative effects that parasites are hindering monarch butterfly flight ability. The continued use of herbicide and pesticides are making most parasites resistant and this is causing an ecological imbalance.

Gustafsson, K. (2015). Latest News on the Monarch Butterfly. Bioscience, biv145.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biv145

This article gives an update of the monarch butterfly and is important because it helps the researcher to compare the past to the present in relation to their habitat and population. 

Dockx, C. (2012). Differences in phenotypic traits and migratory strategies between eastern North American monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus (L.). Biol J Linn Soc Lond106(4), 717-736. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8312.2012.01916.x

The article looks into the phenotypic difference trait as well as migratory strategies of the monarch butterflies with the intention of understand if it is static or has changed over time due to the noted factors causing the decline.

Davis, A. (2011). Are migratory monarchs really declining in eastern North America? Examining evidence from two fall census programs. Insect Conservation and Diversity5(2), 101-105. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-4598.2011.00158.x

The findings in this research shows that the population of the monarch butterfly is on the decline borrowing from observation of their migratory trends. Accordingly, the article spots that the change in migratory routes has resulted from human activities that are directly altering the natural habitats of these insects. 



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