Estimating the annual distribution of monarch butterflies in Canada over 16 years using citizen science data

D. T. Tyler Flockhart, Maxim Larrivée, Kathleen L. Prudic, D. Ryan Norris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus, Linnaeus, 1758) are comprised of two migratory populations separated by the Rocky Mountains and are renowned for their long-distance movements among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Both populations have declined over several decades across North America prompting all three countries to evaluate conservation efforts. Monitoring monarch distribution and abundance is a necessary aspect of ongoing management in Canada where they are a species at risk. We used presence-only data from two citizen science data sets to estimate the annual breeding distribution of monarch butterflies in Canada between 2000 and 2015. Monarch breeding distribution in Canada varied widely among years owing to natural variation, and when considering the upper 95% of the probability of occurrence, the annual mean breeding distribution in Canada was 484 943 km2 (min: 173 449 km2; max: 1 425 835 km2). The area of occurrence was approximately an order of magnitude larger in eastern Canada than in western Canada. Habitat restoration for monarch butterflies in Canada should prioritize productive habitats in southern Ontario where monarchs occur annually and, therefore, likely contribute most to the long-term viability of monarchs in eastern North America. Overall, our assessment sets the geographic context to develop successful management strategies for monarchs in Canada.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-253
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Asclepias
  • Breeding distribution
  • Danaus plexippus
  • Migration
  • Population dynamics
  • Species distribution model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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