Listing the monarch butterfly as endangered?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just announced that it will review the status of a subspecies of the monarch butterfly to determine whether it qualifies for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Here is the text of the e-mail announcement I received earlier today:

Service Initiates Status Review of Monarch Butterfly under the Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it will be conducting a status review of the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service has determined that a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Dr. Lincoln Brower to list a subspecies of monarch (Danaus plexippus plexippus) presents substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted.

Monarch butterflies are found throughout the United States and some populations migrate vast distances across multiple generations each year. Many monarchs fly between the U.S., Mexico and Canada - a journey of over 3,000 miles. This journey has become more perilous for many monarchs because of threats along their migratory paths and on their breeding and wintering grounds. Threats include habitat loss - particularly the loss of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar's sole food source - and mortality resulting from pesticide use. Monarch populations have declined significantly in recent years.

The Service will now conduct a status review to determine whetherlisting is warranted. To ensure this status review is comprehensive, the Service is requesting scientific and commercial data and other information through a 60-day public information period. Specifically, the Service seeks information including:
  • The subspecies' biology, range and population trends, habitat
    requirements, genetics and taxonomy;
  • Historical and current range, including distribution patterns;
  • Historical and current population levels and current and
    projected trends;
  • The life history or behavior of the monarch butterfly that has
    not yet been documented;
  • Thermo-tolerance range and microclimate requirements of the
    monarch butterfly;
  • Past and ongoing conservation measures for the subspecies, its
    habitat or both;  and,
  • Factors that are the basis for making a listing determination
    under section 4(a) of the ESA;
The notice will publish in the Federal Register December 31, 2014, and it is requested that information be received by March 2, 2015. To view the notice and submit information, visit docket
number FWS-R3-ES-2014-0056.

For more information on the ESA's petition process, visit

Lecture notes in population genetics

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Some of you know that the lecture notes I use for my graduate course in population genetics (EEB 5348) are available either as individual HTML or PDF pages from the lecture notes page on the course website or as a single-volume, book-like PDF from Figshare.

This year I'm making them even a little more available. I just created a public Github repository containing the LaTeX source and associated files. I've licensed the notes under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license for many years, but now it will be a bit easier for anyone who's interested to use my notes directly.


A focus on open access

I mentioned earlier this week that I was giving a short presentation on Open Access at an event co-sponsored by The Graduate School and the Library. I've now uploaded the presentation to Figshare, where it is available with a CC-BY license. The presentation itself isn't much to look at, but it does contain a few links that you may find useful.

Holsinger, Kent (2014): A focus on open access. figshare.