Protecting monarch butterflies’ winter home could mean moving hundreds of trees

Researchers are trying to shift Mexico's oyamel firs to higher elevations to help them weather warming temperatures

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To save dwindling populations of Eastern monarch butterflies, researchers in Mexico are trying something controversial: moving hundreds of fir trees 400 metres up a mountain. Their goal is to help the trees, which serve as winter habitat for the migratory butterflies, keep up with the changing climate.

For nearly two decades, the idea of 'assisted migration' — moving species to new areas to rescue them from rising temperatures — has stirred controversy among ecologists. Opponents worry that species introduced into other regions could spread so much that they threaten organisms already living there. But in the case of Mexico’s oyamel fir trees, some scientists think the risk is worth it.

By: Giorgia Guglielmi/Nature News


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