Influence of Arthropod Community Structure on the Survival of Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) Eggs and Larvae in Northeast Texas


Misty Nixon

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological and Environmental Sciences

Date of Award

Fall 2018


Monarch butterfly populations have exhibited significant declines over the past decade, yet factors affecting spring generation survivorship are poorly understood. Arthropod community structure was measured along with the influence of particular species and functional groups on the survivorship of monarch eggs and larvae using Asclepias viridis as a host plant. Analyses revealed a rich arthropod community on monarch host plants, with complex community dynamics occurring among predators and prey that, in turn, affected monarch egg and larvae survival. Predator to prey ratios in the arthropod community created density-dependent, indirect effects through predator satiation and apparent mutualism to positively influence monarch survival. Survivorship was frequently higher when increased richness and abundance of alternate prey was found on host plants. Land management strategies to promote monarch productivity should promote diverse and functional plant communities that, by extension, promote equally diverse and functional arthropod communities.


Jeff G. Kopachena

Subject Categories

Animal Sciences | Life Sciences