Conservation Partners connecting working lands conservation from the Gulf of Mexico to the High Plains with the vision of a sustainable landscape of natural resources resilient to the threats and stressors associated with our changing world.

(903) 570-9626
Conservation Coordinator 

    Monarch Butterfly

    Monarch Butterfly
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

EPIC Urban Monarch Landscape Conservation Design

Formal Title: EPIC Urban Monarch Landscape Conservation Design

Research Focus: conservation delivery

Conservation & Management Challenges:

Monarch butterfly and other pollinators are in trouble. Monarch butterfly habitat— including milkweed host plants and nectar food sources—has declined drastically throughout most of the United States. Observed overwinter population levels have also exhibited a long-term downward trend, suggesting a strong relationship between habitat loss and monarch population declines. Preliminary research results from a U.S. Geological Survey led effort indicate that we need a comprehensive conservation strategy that includes all land types in order to stabilize monarch populations at levels necessary to adequately minimize extinction risk—urban areas will likely play a critical role.

Research Overview:

EPIC stands for Ecological Place in Cities.  This conservation strategy reflects an integrated and interdisciplinary approach, one that includes ecological and social dimensions specific to an urban landscape. In particular, it addresses the following questions: How do we strategically design urban landscapes to benefit monarch and other pollinators? What is the current and projected contribution that urban areas can make to monarch conservation both from an ecological and a social perspective? Where shall we focus habitat work, what are the most useful projects and efforts, and where can that work serve other existing urban priorities? How do we best engage urban sectors (e.g., transportation, health, utilities) of non-traditional conservation participants? Can urban areas and the utility and transportation corridors that support them along the monarch migration corridor work as a network of stopover refugia for adult monarchs during the spring and fall migration? The project has four steps: 1) develop a Landscape Conservation Design (LCD) for the Chicago metropolitan area, and make available the factors, principles and design considerations to guide development of additional efforts; 2) develop additional city-based LCDs for Minneapolis-St. Paul, Kansas City, and Austin; 3) implement and evaluate demonstration projects referencing the prototype LCDs; and 4) hold a workshop with a mid-continent migratory pathway focus to integrate individual LCDs into a cross-regional approach.


We aim to describe the desired types, amounts, and distribution of monarch/pollinator habitat in an urban setting. All work will incorporate geographic, biological, and social science data using six scales (Backyard, underutilized spaces, schoolyards, public parks, intra-city corridor, and multi-city pathway) with objectives, metrics, stakeholders and best management practices to match each level.


This project was completed in late 2015.

Read or download the final Urban Monarch Conservation Workshop Report

Here is a recorded webinar to provide an update on implementation of urban conservation designs in various cities along the I-35 corridor.


This two-year project was initiated in 2015.


Principal Investigator: Abigail Derby Lewis, The Field Museum, 

Landscape Conservation Cooperative Point-of-Contact: Bill Bartush, Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative, National Wetlands Research Center, 700 Cajundome Boulevard, Lafayette, LA 70506

For more information, visit the Eastern Tallgrass Prairie & Big Rivers Monarch LCC project page.

« Back to Science Projects