Monarch butterflies face many challenges that have contributed to a significant decline in their population over the last two decades. More breeding habitat and food resources, including milkweed and nectar sources, across the migration route will help monarch populations recover. HabiTally is a new app hosted by Iowa State University (ISU) that enables farmers, ranchers, landowners and private citizens to support these efforts by entering data about monarch habitat conservation efforts on their farms or yards, or even in locations like churches or parks where groups may create new habitat.
The app was developed as a collaboration between Bayer and The Climate Corporation, with support from Iowa State University’s Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology. Anyone can use the app, which is available as a free download for iOS devices from the App Store.
To participate, users drop pins on a map to mark their conservation habitat location and enter basic, key characteristics of the habitat which include the estimated number of milkweeds, the percent of nectar flowers and, if known, the date the habitat was planted. HabiTally will then automatically calculate the size of the habitat based on the user’s entry and auto-populate information about the milkweed density and land use classification. Users can also record whether they have seen monarchs in their habitat. The data collected can help inform on gains in milkweed across the U.S. Data collected by HabiTally will be housed at ISU and shared with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to help guide future conservation and protection decisions.
USFWS is currently evaluating monarch conservation efforts along the migration route. In December 2020 it will determine its final listing decision of the monarch and, possibly, its habitat, under the federal Endangered Species Act. Voluntary efforts to establish and restore monarch habitat could lead to reversing population losses, potentially rendering a listing unnecessary.