Urban Heat Island Effect on Monarch Butterfly Migratory Routes

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Rachel Rieger
Adam Parlin
Patrick Guerra


By Rachel Rieger, Biological Sciences; Adam Parlin, University of Cincinnati

Advisor: Patrick Guerra

Abstract: Urbanization has been steadily increasing since the industrial revolution, leading to increased temperatures in urbanized areas as compared to their surrounding rural and suburban areas. Cities typically show increased temperatures, both during the day and night, due to a variety of different factors such as the entrapment of solar radiation by buildings, an increase in the emission of greenhouse gases, and a decrease in rates of evaporation that help to release heat from the earth. Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) frequently fly through urbanized landscapes and therefore are subjected to potentially adverse thermal conditions.
We investigate the role of urbanization for thermal conditions experienced by monarch butterflies during their fall migration. We compare temperatures recorded from weather stations across varying latitudes points along two routes to identify high and low risk migratory paths. The high-risk route in this situation follows a path along the east coast of the United States, with high urban imperviousness. Conversely, the low risk route follows a path through the Midwest, with low urban imperviousness. These latitudes were classified into either rural or urban areas; relatively underdeveloped versus highly developed, respectively. From these locations, temperature data for 2017 was extracted and analyzed.
To further analyze this research question, data are going to be gathered from previous years, to examine the temperature trend over the years. This trend can be applied to monarch migration, and how it has been affected.

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