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Monarchs and Milkweed: A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution

by Anurag Agrawal

The fascinating and complex evolutionary relationship of the monarch butterfly and the milkweed plant

Monarch butterflies are one of nature's most recognizable creatures, known for their bright colors and epic annual migration from the United States and Canada to Mexico. Yet there is much more to the monarch than its distinctive presence and mythic journeying. In Monarchs and Milkweed, Anurag Agrawal presents a vivid investigation into how the monarch butterfly has evolved closely alongside the milkweed?a toxic plant named for the sticky white substance emitted when its leaves are damaged?and how this inextricable and intimate relationship has been like an arms race over the millennia, a battle of exploitation and defense between two fascinating species.

The monarch life cycle begins each spring when it deposits eggs on milkweed leaves. But this dependency of monarchs on milkweeds as food is not reciprocated, and milkweeds do all they can to poison or thwart the young monarchs. Agrawal delves into major scientific discoveries, including his own pioneering research, and traces how plant poisons have not only shaped monarch-milkweed interactions but have also been culturally important for centuries. Agrawal presents current ideas regarding the recent decline in monarch populations, including habitat destruction, increased winter storms, and lack of milkweed?the last one a theory that the author rejects. He evaluates the current sustainability of monarchs and reveals a novel explanation for their plummeting numbers.

Lavishly illustrated with more than eighty color photos and images, Monarchs and Milkweed takes readers on an unforgettable exploration of one of nature's most important and sophisticated evolutionary relationships.

Get it on amazon »

 

My Land Management Connector

This app helps landowners find land management service providers, assists service providers in aggregating land management services, and works for any size property. 

 

My Land Plan

My Land Plan is a resource for woodland owners, by woodland owners to help you protect and enjoy your woods and is provided to you by the American Forest Foundation (AFF). AFF works on behalf of family forest owners around the country who want to ensure their woods stay healthy for all the reasons why we love woods – wildlife, recreation, solitude, a place to enjoy with family and friends.

My Land Plan offers a unique and specialized set of tools to help you find, store and use material that is especially tailored to your needs and goals. To access these tools, you will have to sign up for an account and give us some basic information about your woods, which will be stored in a confidential, password protected site.

Once you set up an MLP account, you will be able to:

  • Make a map of your land and mark special features such as trails, water bodies, good picnic spots or places where you're likely to see wildlife.
  • Set goals for your land--such as increasing wildlife or building trails--and see specific steps to accomplish them.
  • Access customized information about local government agencies, nonprofits and businesses that can help you with specific tasks and questions.
  • Keep a journal to record your experiences on your land in words and pictures. Share journal entries with your friends and family
  • Connect with other woodland owners who can offer you advice, ideas, inspiration and encouragement. Offer them the same in return.
 

National Agricultural Pest Information System (NAPIS) Pest Tracker

This website publishes survey maps for pests of agricultural and forest commodities and provides links to pest news and information. The National Agricultural Pest Information System (NAPIS) stores and manages pest survey data that is collected by CAPS (Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey) and other PPQ (Plant Protection and Quarantine) survey programs. Detection surveys are one tool used to manage the introduction of exotic pests.

 

National Estuarine and Marine Exotic Species Information System (NEMESIS)

National Estuarine and Marine Exotic Species Information System (NEMESIS) is a resource for information on non-native (or exotic) species that occur in coastal marine waters of the United States. National Estuarine and Marine Exotic Species Information System (NEMESIS), developed by the Marine Invasions Research Laboratory at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, provides comprehensive information on approximately 500 introduced marine and estuarine species of invertebrates and algae with established populations in the continental United States.  Designed for a diverse audience, from researchers and resource managers to students and the public, NEMESIS is a portal for access to general or specific information on introduced marine species in the United States.

 

National FFA Organization

The National FFA Organization FFA is an intracurricular student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership. It is one of the three components of agricultural education.  

The letters “FFA” stand for Future Farmers of America. These letters are a part of our history and our heritage that will never change. But FFA is not just for students who want to be production farmers; FFA also welcomes members who aspire to careers as teachers, doctors, scientists, business owners and more. For this reason, the name of the organization was updated in 1988 after a vote of national convention delegates to reflect the growing diversity and new opportunities in the industry of agriculture.

Today, the National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

 

National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC) - Gateway to invasive species information covering Federal, State, local, and international sources.

The National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC) was established in 2005 at the National Agricultural Library to meet the information needs of users including the National Invasive Species Council (Council). NISIC creates and manages the www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov Web site. The Web site serves as a reference gateway to information, organizations, and services about invasive species.
 
The Center grew out of NAL's leadership in the development of the Invasivespecies.gov Web site for the Council. In June 2000, Invasivespecies.gov was launched as a joint collaboration between NAL, the U.S. Geological Survey, National Biological Information Infrastructure, and the Council. The site began with less than 200 links to external resources. By June 2005 the Web site had more than 12,000 unique links. A major redesign was needed to enhance access to this growing wealth of resources.
 
A new Web site, www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov, managed by NISIC was launched in 2005 built largely on the general content from the original www.invasivespecies.gov Web site.
 
Invasivespecies.gov is managed by the staff of the National Invasive Species Council to meet the administrative, communication, and facilitation needs specifically related to the business and activity of the Council.

 

National Wetlands Database and Interactive Mapping Tool

The Wetlands mapper is designed to deliver easy-to-use, map like views of America’s Wetland resources. It integrates digital map data along with other resource information to produce current information on the status, extent, characteristics and functions of wetlands, riparian, and deepwater habitats. ?The wetlands displayed on the Wetlands Mapper show wetland type and extent using a biological definition of wetlands. There is no attempt to define the limits of proprietary jurisdiction of any Federal, State, or local government, or to establish the geographical scope of the regulatory programs of government agencies.?

 

 

National Wildlife Refuge System - National Wildlife Refuge Locator

Find a Refuge Near You 

Nearly 46 million people visit national wildlife refuges each year. Visitors and local communities recognize refuges as national treasures:

  • Wildlife refuges are home to more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species and more than 200 species of fish.
  • Fifty-nine refuges have been established with a primary purpose of conserving threatened or endangered species.
  • 280 of the 1,200-plus federally-listed threatened or endangered species in the U.S. are found on units of the Refuge System.

 

 

National Young Farmers' Coalition

The National Young Farmers' Coalition represents, mobilizes, and engages young farmers to ensure their success across the country. NYFC supports practices and policies that will sustain young, independent, and prosperous farmers now and in the future through supporting independent family farms, sustainable farming pracices , affordable land for farmers, fair labor practices, farmer-to-farmer training, farmers of every ender, race and sexual orientaion, and cooperation and friendship between all farmers. Click Here.

 

Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement on Energy and Transportation Lands

The monarch butterfly Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurance with integrated Candidate Conservation Agreement for energy and transportation lands is a remarkable opportunity to help the monarch and other pollinators. More than 45 energy and transmission companies and state departments of transportation are voluntarily committing time and funding to carry out monarch butterfly-friendly management practices on millions of acres in rights of way. In turn, their actions may preclude the need to list the monarch or could speed recovery if the monarch is listed under the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, the agreement provides participants regulatory assurances that additional conservation measures will not be required if the monarch is protected under the ESA.

 

Native Seed Network

The Native Seed Network is a resource for people working to add native plants back into the landscape. Since 2002 we have been working with land managers, seed producers, and restoration professionals to share information about native seed and improve our knowledge about and access to native seed.

The Native Seed Network connects people and organizations involved with all aspects of native seed, from collection, development, production, and use in restoration. Our vision is for restoration and rehabilitation projects to be supported by an abundance of quality seed that is both appropriate for the site and affordable.

 

 

NatureServe Explorer

NatureServe Explorer provides information on more than 70,000 plants, animals, and ecosystems of the United States and Canada, and includes  in-depth coverage for rare and endangered species. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe and its natural heritage member programs.

Use the database to find:

  • scientific and common names
  • conservation status
  • distribution maps
  • images for thousands of species
  • life histories, conservation needs, and more
 

New Farmers Website

An online resource provides centralized, one-stop shopping for beginning farmers and ranchers to explore the variety of USDA initiatives designed to help them succeed.

USDA’s new farmers site has in-depth information, including:

  • how to increase access to land and capital;
  • build new markets;
  • participate in conservation opportunities;
  • select and use the right risk management tools; and
  • access USDA education and technical support programs.
 

Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) Information Resource for the United States Geological Survey

The Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) information resource for the United States Geological Survey located at the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center. This site has been established as a central repository for accurate and spatially referenced biogeographic accounts of nonindigenous aquatic species. The program provides scientific reports, online/realtime queries, spatial data sets, regional contact lists, and general information. The data is made available for use by biologists, interagency groups, and the general public. The geographical coverage is the United States.

For more information on the NAS program see the NAS Flyer.

 

Nontimber Forest Product Resources for Small Forestland Owners and Businesses

The purpose of this website is to provide information and tools to help advance commercial development of nontimber forest products (NTFPs) on small forestlands in the United States. For the purposes of this website, NTFPs are defined as all wild, wild-simulated, and cultivated native forest vegetation other than lumber and lumber industry by-products (e.g., industrial turpentine, plywood, sawdust, strand board).

 

Noxious Weed Management and Control Program

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) coordinates a statewide noxious weed management and control program, acting to protect the integrity of the state’s natural resources from the biological degradation caused by invasive terrestrial plants.

By achieving this goal, the economic, recreational and aesthetic uses of water bodies are protected, water quality is maintained, and natural aquatic systems are not impaired

 

NRCS Energy Estimator Tools

Farmers and ranchers can cut input costs, maintain production, protect soil and water resources, reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels, and save money by using conservation practices in their agricultural operations. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has developed four energy tools designed to increase energy awareness in agriculture and to help farmers and ranchers identify where they can reduce their energy costs. The results generated by these tools are estimates based on NRCS models and are illustrative of the magnitude of savings. Learn More »

 

NRCS' Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative

See how ranchers have worked with the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to bring back the Lesser Prairie Chicken while improving their land for livestock.

Here is the latest update from NRCS on the LPCI

 

NREL - Dynamic Maps, GIS Data and Analysis Tools - Visualization & Geospatial Tools

National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Geospatial Data Science Team have developed tools that allow users to determine things such as how much electricity can be produced from solar systems on a house or what renewable resources are available in a specific area. The most current list of available NREL's GIS tools for biomass, solar, geothermal, wind, transportation and hydrogen can be accessed here.