CSUN Biology Master’s student Richard Rachman is at the center of a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, covering the work of monitoring west coast monarch butterflies, which have suffered serious declines in recent years. Rachman coordinated this year’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count in LA County. His efforts, and those of volunteers up and down the west coast, found good news — monarch populations are on the upswing in 2021, though they’re not nearly out of the woods yet.
This year’s count, which began around Thanksgiving 2021 and concluded on Jan. 9, is much improved. The final numbers won’t be released until late this month, but more than 200,000 monarchs have been spotted at overwintering sites along the coast between Central California and northern Baja, 100 times greater than the 2020-21 count, says Emma Pelton, senior endangered species conservation biologist for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
But Pelton isn’t celebrating, because 200,000 is still far from the millions of monarchs that used to migrate from their breeding grounds in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest to the California coast in the 1980s and ‘90s.
You can read the whole article on the LA Times website.
Image: Monarchs overwintering in the branches of a eucalyptus tree, in 2006 (Flickr: emdot)