Tagging Update, 2008-9

This year we will be tagging up to 20,000 butterflies, most probably beginning 1 March (but this will be confirmed by Barrie Frost).

The data from previous years is currently being analysed – but already we can share with you this map showing the Abundance of Monarchs across all the years of research by MBNZT (copyright: B. Monahan, M. Hauber, and MBNZT).

Abundance of Monarchs, 2005-2008

Tagging 20,000 butterflies is critical for the success of the programme.

Currently, the Auckland University is evaluating two alternative hypotheses: one is that Monarchs migrate north during the autumn and winter in NZ and two that Monarchs continue to breed and fly in more northerly areas of NZ. Tagging–especially long-distance recoveries will be critical to discriminate between these alternatives.

Our analyses indicate that about 20-50 butterflies are recovered after long-distance flights when 20,000 butterflies are tagged, and so to reach statistically meaningful analyses between the seasons we need to double the number of butterflies tagged–and preferentially tag them during the autumn.

These analyses are conducted in collaboration with MBNZT and with Dr. Matt Rayner, NIWA Auckland, and Assoc. Prof. Mark Hauber, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland. Mark is the Senior Lecturer in Animal Behaviour, website:

http://www.eab.auckland.ac.nz

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