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Posted Sat Feb 1 2014: from New York Times:
Migration of Monarch Butterflies Shrinks Again Under Inhospitable Conditions
Faltering under extreme weather and vanishing habitats, the yearly winter migration of monarch butterflies to a handful of forested Mexican mountains dwindled precipitously in December, continuing what scientists said was an increasingly alarming decline. The migrating population has become so small -- perhaps 35 million, experts guess -- that the prospects of its rebounding to levels seen even five years ago are diminishing. At worst, scientists said, a migration widely called one of the world's great natural spectacles is in danger of effectively vanishing. The Mexican government and the World Wildlife Fund said at a news conference on Wednesday that the span of forest inhabited by the overwintering monarchs shrank last month to a bare 1.65 acres -- the equivalent of about one and a quarter football fields. Not only was that a record low, but it was just 56 percent of last year's total, which was itself a record low. At their peak in 1996, the monarchs occupied nearly 45 acres of forest.
[Read more stories about: canary in coal mine, ecosystem interrelationships, unintended consequences, massive die-off]
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