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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access December 13, 2018

Flying through hurricane central: impacts of hurricanes on migrants with a focus on monarch butterflies

  • Leslie Ries EMAIL logo , Naresh Neupane , Kristen A. Baum and Elise F. Zipkin
From the journal Animal Migration


Hurricanes are becoming more frequent and intense, so understanding the consequences for biodiversity, including migratory species, has become critical. Studies suggest that migrants may avoid most of the direct harm of hurricanes by shifting their flight trajectories to less-impacted regions, but the majority of this research has focused on birds. We review the literature on migratory bird responses to hurricanes and also describe other taxa likely to be affected. We then focus on the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), whose fall migratory pathway goes through Texas during hurricane season. Like birds, monarchs may be able to avoid direct damage from hurricanes. However, it may be more important to determine how they respond to shifts in availability of critical resources during migration. In fall, when a storm-triggered flush of out-of-season vegetation growth is especially likely, hurricanes could reasonably cause indirect impacts that could be positive (increased nectar) or negative (out-of-season host plants that could disrupt migration), or both. The monarch butterfly is an especially good target for this research because of its distinct migratory phases, the importance of hurricane-impacted zones to its annual cycle, and the large quantity of data available through an extensive network of citizen science programs.


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Received: 2018-07-18
Accepted: 2018-10-14
Published Online: 2018-12-13
Published in Print: 2018-12-01

© by Leslie Ries, et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

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