Monarch Butterflies as a Shared Natural Resource
The migration of the monarch butterfly is one of the most spectacular
natural phenomena in the world — but it is considered "endangered."
Scientists fear the migration may not continue beyond the next decade.
On their annual migrations, monarchs fly freely between Canada, the United
States, and Mexico. (Click
on the map to see their route.) None of these countries "owns"
the monarchs. They are a shared natural resource. Just as the
migration crosses borders each season, so does the responsibility for
monarch stewardship. All North American neighbors share responsibility
for protecting these fragile natural resources and the habitat that is
critical to their survival.
map of North America (landforms only: click example)
map of North America (shows state and national boundaries); bookmark
it online or make copies of the student handout.
Students will imagine seeing the world through the eyes of a migrating
a physical wall map or online
map of North America.
- Find the
approximate location of your school and the location of the Mexican
monarch sanctuaries (19N latitude, -100W longitude).
the monarchs' migration path to and from the sanctuaries in Mexico.
(Note: the monarchs fly over land and NOT over the Gulf of Mexico.)
- Now look
together at the political
map of North America. Ask, How are the maps the same? How are
- Pass out
copies of the Student
Handout. Have students work in small groups to complete them —
or work together as a class.)
a class list of the borders monarchs crossed. Point out that for each
border crossed, the monarch relies on good neighbors for survival. Because
monarchs migrate and travel freely among borders, they are shared treasured
resources; we are all responsible for their safe passage.
like these will help the students make the connection between caring,
sharing, and responsibility for protecting what is important to us.
- What do
you share with other members of your family?
- Are there
things you wish you didn't have to share? Why? How do you feel when
something you care about isn't treated well by other people?
that each member of a family feeds the dog one day a week. What would
happen if someone forgot to act responsibly and missed a day, or more?
What might you say about sharing responsibility for the dog's well-being?
- What types
of things do you think monarchs need along the way to survive their
long journey? How could humans help them or get in the way of their
- Use words
or pictures to explain this statement: "We protect only those things
we care about."
a list of other natural resources that are shared across global boundaries.
- Make a
poster to encourage others to join in protecting the natural resources
we all share.