Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version



Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2021.


Copyright Olivetti 2021


How are Nebraska land use decisions affecting eastern monarch butterfly decline? What are the driving factors causing monarch decline? What are the challenges of insect monitoring and data organizing? The purpose of this exploratory research project was to investigate these questions and simultaneously illustrate the importance of insect biodiversity, focusing largely on the monarch butterfly. The eastern population of the monarch butterfly has declined 80% over the past two decades. The state of Nebraska lies within their migratory path and is therefore critical to their survival. The hypothesis is that monarch populations are declining because of the combined impacts of land use changes, agrochemicals, the subsequent milkweed loss, and climate change. A qualitative, non-empirical research method was used, and this two-semester process was primarily guided by a five-step systematic literature review and by following examples of published works. The goal of the project was to find out if one factor was affecting monarch decline more than others and if Nebraska had any role in it. This project provides further awareness of monarch butterflies, the importance of contemplative land use, and conveys the interconnectedness between humans, agriculture, and insects. Since there are many factors driving the decline of monarch populations, there are many solutions to explore for saving the monarch.