ORIGINALLY POSTED 02/16/2017 |
FROM THE Spring 2017 ISSUE
As a result of President Ricardo Romo dedicating 6.8 acres of UTSA land to the preservation of the monarch butterfly, the university has been designated a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
“I’m excited for our research, the environmental sciences program here at UTSA, and especially our students,” says Janis Bush, professor of environmental sciences, who is leading the university’s studies with monarchs and their milkweed habitat. “I think the great benefit of certifying that area through the NWF helps us further solidify our commitment to maintaining that area to preserve and study monarch butterflies.”
Faculty and students began a two-year study in 2016, conducting roadside surveys throughout the state to determine the prevalence of monarch larvae and eggs in Texas. [See “Of Monarchs & Milkweed” from the Spring 2016 issue of Sombrilla Magazine.] Their results will help preservationists determine whether the monarch should be placed on the federal endangered species list. “As our state insect, the monarch needs our protection,” Bush says. “Our laboratory at UTSA has been honored to lead the research for the state on the status of the monarch.”
According to Bush, early estimates from northern wildlife organizations show the population of monarch butterflies may have tripled last year as a result of efforts to maintain their Texas breeding grounds. “I think all of the attention that has been paid to the monarch butterfly over the last year is helping them begin to thrive again,” she says. “I’m very excited to see how they’ve progressed since they were last here.”
The preserved land for the monarch is adjacent to the Brackenridge parking lots on Main Campus. Students have already been planting milkweed on the acreage to attract the butterflies and give them a place to lay eggs.