USGS - science for a changing world

Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center


National valuation of monarch butterflies indicates an untapped potential for incentive-based conservation

Diffendorfer, J. E., Ries,L., Loomis,J.B., Oberhauser,K., Lopez-Hoffman,L., Semmens,B., Butterfield,B.,  Semmens, D., Bagstad,K., Goldstein, J., Wiederholt,R., Dubovsky,J., Mattsson, B., and Thogmartin.  W.E., 2013, National valuation of monarch butterflies indicates an untapped potential for incentive-based conservation. Conservation Letters., DOI: 10.1111/conl.12065


The annual migration of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) has high cultural value and recent surveys indicate monarch populations are declining. Protecting migratory species is complex because they cross international borders and depend on multiple regions. Understanding how much, and where, humans place value on migratory species can facilitate market-based conservation approaches. We performed a contingent valuation study of monarchs to understand the potential for such approaches to fund monarch conservation. The survey asked U.S. respondents about the money they would spend, or have spent, growing monarch-friendly plants, and the amount they would donate to monarch conservation organizations. Combining planting payments and donations, the survey indicated U.S. households valued monarchs as a total one-time payment of $4.78–$6.64 billion, levels similar to many endangered vertebrate species. The financial contribution of even a small percentage of households through purchases or donations could generate new funding for monarch conservation through market-based approaches.


Conservation planning; contingent valuation; ecosystem services; Danaus plexippus; migration; monarch; willingness to pay

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Contacting the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Page Last Modified: January 29, 2016