MODELING MONARCHS: PREDICTING THE OVERWINTERING DISTRIBUTIONS OF MONARCH BUTTERFLIES IN SANTA BARBARA COUNTY WITH A CLIMATIC NICHE MODEL.
Ashley Fisher; Cal Poly; 1180 SCENIC WAY, LOS OSOS, CA, 93402; (805) 704-9513; afishe08@gmail.com; Kiana, Saniee, Charis, van der Heide , Jessica, Griffiths , Dan, Meade, Francis, X, Villablanca
Western Monarchs migrate annually from summer breeding habitats to overwintering groves along the California coast. Santa Barbara County contains a disproportionate number of the known overwintering groves used by Monarch butterflies. We use climatic conditions associated with known Monarch butterfly overwintering groves from California to build climatic niche models, estimating the fine scale probability of overwintering grove occurrence (locations) in Santa Barbara County. We then used these successful models in conjunction with predictive climate change scenarios to project where groves are likely to occur by the year 2050. Under a plausible climate scenario, the overwintering grove presence has the highest probability at higher elevations in the county, not at low elevation or in coastal regions as our present day models suggest. Under an extreme climate scenario, mountaintops and ridgelines have the highest probabilities of presence. Our model predictions likely have management implications, as higher elevation regions, previously unoccupied, are anticipated to become increasingly critical to conservation of overwintering habitat over time. Our results also suggest that estimating the size of the western overwintering population will be problematic unless annual counts can compensate for a shift in the distribution and a potential change in the number and location of occupied sites.
Ecology and Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles III