About the Trinational Monarch Knowledge Network

At the Monarch Research and Monitoring Workshop, held during February 2018 in Montreal as part of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) project Science for Monarch and Pollinator Conservation, participants identified as a priority the sharing of data and knowledge gained during decades of monitoring and research by several organizations and researchers along the migratory routes of the monarch.

Experts agreed that building a trinational database would greatly enhance the ability of researchers to perform large-scale temporal and spatial analyzes and acquire new knowledge that would enable better decision-making for the conservation of the monarch. The Mission Monarch Team from the (Institut de recherche en biologie vegetal and Montreal Insectarium/Space for life), received the mandate to create this trinational network of knowledge about the monarch, called the Trinational Monarch Knowledge Network (TMKN).

To do this, a database gathering all monarch observations (Danaus plexippus) and its critical habitat (plants of the genus Asclepias and nectaring plants) a vailable in the range of the monarch butterfly in Canada, Mexico and United States was proposed. This vision meant that all available data on the presence of monarchs and its critical habitat would be uploaded in a single place and would be available on the web in a standard format.

The structure of the TMKN is based on NatureCounts, one of the nodes of the Avian Knowledge Network with proven, ample experience in concentrating and managing ever-growing databases from a host of partners and projects.

One of the core strengths of the TMKN that allows the creation of such an extensive database, combining data from hundreds of different sources, is a common standard defined by the Avian Knowledge Network, called the Bird Monitoring Data Exchange (BMDE). Based on Darwin Core Archive international biodiversity standards, this format makes combining datasets easy, and removes some of the usual barriers related to accessibility and formats, rapid discovery, access, and analysis of these vast resources.

Goals of the TMKN

The goals of the Trinational Monarch Knowledge Network are to:

  • Educate the public on the dynamics of the monarch butterfly across North America;
  • Provide interactive decision-making tools for land managers;
  • Make available an accessible, readily usable data resource for scientific research;
  • Gather in a single place the already abundant, but dispersed, knowledge about monarch and milkweed (Asclepias spp.) phenology;
  • Promote collaboration among researchers, citizens, nongovernmental organizations, and governments to protect the monarch and its habitat;
  • Advance new exploratory analytical techniques to study the migratory phenomenon of the monarch butterfly;
  • Identify knowledge gaps about the monarch butterfly to focus research efforts.

Participants in the Monarch Research and Monitoring Workshop, Montréal, February 2018