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Animal Migration

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

Leslie Ries / Naresh Neupane / Kristen A. Baum / Elise F. Zipkin
Published Online: 2018-12-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ami-2018-0010


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.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

Keywords: Extreme weather; hurricanes; migration; monarchs; lepidoptera; bats; birds; dragonflies; insects


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About the article

Received: 2018-07-18

Accepted: 2018-10-14

Published Online: 2018-12-13

Published in Print: 2018-12-01

Citation Information: Animal Migration, Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 94–103, ISSN (Online) 2084-8838, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ami-2018-0010.

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© by Leslie Ries, et al., published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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