Karen Oberhauser is the Director of the UW-Madison Arboretum. She and her students have conducted research on several aspects of monarch butterfly ecology. Her research depends on traditional lab and field techniques, as well as the contributions of a variety of audiences through citizen science. Her strong interest in promoting a citizenry with a high degree of scientific and environmental literacy led to the development of a science education program that involves courses for teachers, and opportunities for youth to engage in research and share their findings with broad audiences. In 1996, she started a nationwide Citizen Science project called the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, which continues to engage hundreds of volunteers throughout North America. Karen has authored over 90 papers on her research on monarchs, insect conservation, and citizen science. Her new job at the Arboretum blends her work on habitat conservation, public outreach, and citizen science research.
Karen is passionate about the conservation of the world’s biodiversity, and believes that the connections her projects promote between monarchs, humans, and the natural world promote meaningful conservation action. She is the chair of the Monarch Joint Venture, and a founding officer of the Monarch Butterfly Fund. In 2013, Karen received a White House Champion of Change award for her work with Citizen Science.
How Monarch Butterflies are Connected to Our Waters
Monarch butterfly populations have been declining over the last 20 years. Because insect numbers are notoriously difficult to assess, and because they often show large annual fluctuations, simply documenting this decline has been a challenge. It is now important to move beyond simple documentation, and toward responding to the challenge posed by monarch conservation, and insect conservation in general. I’ll describe the amazing biology of migratory monarch populations, and then discuss how the need for an “all hands on deck” approach to monarch conservation is galvanizing habitat restoration across North America, including along fragile waterways.