Scientists Learn from Butterflies
More Land is Needed

When land was put aside to protect the monarchs in 1986, the biological needs of the over-wintering butterflies were not well understood. It took many years of study to realize that, during the dry season, the monarchs move to lower elevations where there is water.

Over time, scientists realized that the monarchs were moving beyond the sanctuary boundaries. The land the butterflies needed during the dry season was not protected for them.

Dr. Lincoln Brower explains, "One important goal of the newly established sanctuary boundaries (November, 2000) was to protect the watershed for the monarchs at this time of year. On sunny days, as winter advances, butterflies fly out of their colonies down-stream for up to 1 km to drink. This enables the butterflies to restore their water balance as the dry season advances. The new sanctuary boundaries take this biological need into account."

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