Target or Affiliated Species or Habitat
The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) is a citizen science project that was developed by the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab in 1996. The goal of the project is to collect long-term spatial and temporal data on larval monarch populations to assess population dynamics, particularly variations in monarch populations in time and space, paying special attention to the population during the breeding season.
The MLMP trains volunteers in the United States and Canada to participate in important monarch research that would otherwise be impossible without the contributions of these dedicated citizen scientists. The data collected by MLMP volunteers is analyzed and utilized by researchers in peer-reviewed scientific publications. The results of research that uses MLMP data are often used to inform monarch conservation decisions, meaning MLMP citizen scientists are making major contributions that will help the monarch butterfly and conserve their epic migration. There are many ways to contribute to the project, but the primary activity involves monitoring milkweed plants for the presence or absence of monarchs and then contributing this data to the MLMP database. Other activities include collecting rainfall data and estimating monarch survival rates.
The MLMP provides volunteers with support and instructions through in-person and online trainings. Getting started with the MLMP is easy and volunteers decide how much time they want to spend contributing to the project. The MLMP was included in the recent Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit, and the MLMP monitoring protocol is currently being used as a model for the Monarch Conservation Science Partnership as they develop a nation-wide monitoring strategy (MLMP 2015).