Monarch Butterflies

Since 2008, our lab has been working on migration patterns and population dynamics of monarch butterflies. We primarily use stable isotopes in wing chitin to estimate the natal origin of individuals captured throughout the range and over multiple seasons. Our goal with this work is to describe broad-scale connectivity patterns across the eastern breeding range and then integrate this information into year-round predictive population models to understand what limits and regulates migratory monarch butterflies. We have also been involved in a collaborative project to understand the proximate causes of migratory behaviour.

Monarch Butterfly Publications

Reich, MS, Flockhart, DTT, Norris, DR, Hu, L & Bataille, C. 2021. Continuous-surface geographic assignment of migratory insects using strontium isotopes: a case study with monarch butterflies. Methods in Ecology & Evolution 12(12):2445-2457.

Wilcox, AE, Newman, AEM, Raine, NE, Mitchell, GW & Norris, DR. 2021. Captive-reared migratory monarch butterflies show natural orientation when released in the wild: reply to Davis (2021). Conservation Physiology 9(1):coab064.

Knight, SM, Flockhart DTT, Derbyshire, R, Bosco, MG & Norris, DR. 2021. Experimental field evidence shows milkweed contaminated with a common neonicotinoid decreases the survival of monarch butterflies. Journal of Animal Ecology 90(7)1742-1752.

Wilcox, AE, Newman, AEM, Raine, NE, Mitchell, GW & Norris, DR. 2021. Captive-reared migratory monarch butterflies show natural orientation when released in the wild. Conservation Physiology 9(1):coab032.

Wilcox, AE, Newman, AEM & Norris, DR. 2021. Developmental and reproductive effects of neonicotinoid exposure in monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). Canadian Entomologist 153(3):327-342.

Wilcox, AE, Newman, AEM, Raine, NE, Mitchell, GW & Norris, DR. 2021. Effects of early-life exposure to sublethal levels of a common neonicotinoid on the orientation and migration of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). Journal of Experimental Biology 224(4).

Grant, TJ, Flockhart, DTT, Blader, TR, Hellmich, RL, Pitman, GM, Tyner, S, Norris, DR & Bradbury, SP. 2020. Estimating arthropod survival probability from field counts: a case study with monarch butterflies. Ecosphere 11(4):e03082.

Knight, SM, Pitman, GM, Flockhart, DTT & Norris, DR. 2019. Radio-tracking reveals how wind and temperature influence the pace of insect migration. Biology Letters 15:20190327.

Knight, SM, Norris, DR, Derbyshire, R, Flockhart, DTT. 2019. Strategic mowing of roadside milkweeds increases monarch butterfly oviposition. Global Ecology & Conservation 19:e00678.

Flockhart, DTT, Larrivee, M, Prudic, KL & Norris, DR. 2019. Estimating the annual distribution of monarch butterflies in Canada over 16 years using citizen science data. Facets 4: 238-253.

Wilcox, AE, Flockhart, DTT, Newman AEM & Norris, DR. 2019. An evaluation of studies on the potential threats contributing to the decline of eastern migratory North American monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution 7:art99.

Vander Zanden, HB, Chaffe, CL, Gonzalez-Rodriquez, A, Flockhart, DTT, Norris, DR & Wayne, ML. 2019. Alternate migration strategies of eastern monarch butterflies revealed by stable isotopes. Animal Migration 5:74-83.

Flockhart, DTT, Acron, JH, Hobson, KA & Norris, DR. 2019. Documenting successful recruitment of monarch butterflies at the extreme northern edge of their range. Canadian Entomologist 151(1):49-57.

Satterfield, DA, Maerz, JC, Hunter, MD, Flockhart DTT*, Hobson, KA, Norris, DR, Streit, H, de Roode, J, Altizer, S. 2018. Migratory monarchs that encounter resident monarchs show life-history changes and higher rates of parasite infection. Ecology Letters 21(11):1670-1680.

Pitman, G, Flockhart, DTT & Norris, DR. 2018. Patterns and causes of oviposition in monarch butterflies: implications for milkweed restoration. Biological Conservation 217:54-65.

Flockhart, DTT, Dabydeen, A, Satterfield, D, Hobson, KA, Wassenaar, LI & Norris, DR. 2018.Patterns of parasitism in monarch butterflies during the breeding season in eastern North America. Ecological Entomology 43:28-36.

Flockhart, DTT, Fitz-gerald, B, Brower, LP, Derbyshire, R, Hobson, KA, Wassenaar, LI, Altizer, S & Norris, DR. 2017. Migration distance as a selective episode for wing morphology in a migratory insect. Movement Ecology 5:7.

Flockhart, DTT, Brower, LP, Ramirez, MI, Hobson, KA, Wassenaar, LI, Altizer, S & Norris, DR. 2017. Regional  climate on the breeding grounds predicts variation in the natal origin of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico over 38 years. Global Change Biology 23:2565-2576


Flockhart, DTT, Kyser, TK, Chipley, D, Miller, N & Norris, DR. 2015. Applying strontium isotopes (87Sr/86Sr) for tracking wildlife: experimental evidence shows no fractionation between soil, plants, and herbivores. Isotopes in Environmental & Health Studies 51(3): 372-381.

Flockhart, DTT, Pichancourt, JB, Norris, DR & Martin TG. 2015. Unraveling the annual cycle in a migratory animal: breeding-season habitat loss drives declines of monarch butterflies. Journal of Animal Ecology 84: 155-165.

Flockhart, DTT, Wassenaar, LI, Hobson, KA, Martin, TG, Wunder, MB & Norris, DR. 2013. Tracking multi-generational colonization of the breeding grounds by monarch butterflies in eastern North America. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London: Biological Sciences 280 (1768).

Mouritsen, H, Derbyshire, R, Stakkeicken, J, Frost, B, Mouritsen, O & Norris, DR. 2013. An experimental displacement and over 50 years of tagged-recoveries show that monarch butterflies are not true navigators. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 110(18): 7348-7353.

Hanley, D, Miller, N, Flockhart, DTT & Norris, DR. 2013. Forewing pigmentation predicts migration distance in wild-caught migratory monarch butterflies. Behavioural Ecology 24: 1108-1113.

Miller, NG, Wassenaar, LI, Hobson, KA & Norris, DR. 2012. Migratory connectivity in the Monarch butterfly: patterns of spring re-colonization in eastern North America. Public Library of Science, One 3: e39891.

Flockhart, DTT, Martin, TM, & Norris, DR. 2012. Experimental examination of intraspecific density-dependent competition during the breeding period in Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). Public Library of Science, One 7(9): e45080.

Miller, NG, Wassenaar, LI, Hobson, KA & Norris, DR. 2011. Monarch butterflies cross the Appalachians from the west to re-colonize the North American east coast. Biology Letters 7: 43-46.

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