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Data and Privacy Policies

Data Use and Privacy Policy

(Note: This document is subject to change. Please check back to this site before using MLMP data or images.)

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) volunteers collect data on monarch distribution and abundance across the North American monarch breeding range. Their data have been the basis for many publications on monarch biology, and have allowed detailed tracking of the health of the monarch population and the habitats that support monarchs.

Submitted Information

When you register and submit data to the MLMP, your personal information is voluntarily supplied. By registering, you allow the MLMP to associate your monitoring records with a unique identifier that allows you to track and download your records about your monitoring site and the monarchs, milkweed, and other plants that you observe. MLMP project managers are able to see your email address and contact information, but this is not available to other site visitors. If you choose, your name can be withheld from public viewing, but in most cases, volunteer names and their city and state are visible on the website.

Also, when you register and submit data to the MLMP, you are giving us your permission to use your data in analyses and publications and to display your data on our website. The only records that are publicly visible to all site visitors are the weekly monarch densities that you report, and a summary of survival and parasitism rates for monarchs that you bring in from the field and rear for the parasitism study. All other data (weather records, site information, blooming plants that you observe, etc.) are only visible to you and to the project managers. In some cases, project managers provide your raw data to other researchers, but your name and contact information will be removed from any databases that we share. No personal contact information is ever made public or shared with researchers. If your data comprise a large part of the data we use for individual published analyses, we will contact you about either acknowledging you personally in the publication or, in some cases, ask you if you would like to be a co-author.

Photo Copyright

If submitting or posting another photographer's photos to the MLMP, you should have permission to do so. By submitting your photos, you are giving MLMP personnel or others permission to use them for educational or scientific purposes, always with attribution. The MLMP follows the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA copyright policy (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike) (see Anyone who uses photos from the MLMP must attribute the work to the photographer listed with the photo and to the MLMP. They may not use the work for commercial purposes. If they alter, transform, or build upon the work, they may only distribute the resulting work under the same or a similar license to this one.

If you use photos from the MLMP Gallery, follow the Creative Commons policy linked above, and attribute the photos as follows: Photographer Name, Monarch Larva Monitoring Project.

Injury Liability

As a monarch citizen scientist, you are responsible for your own safety and personal insurance in case of injury. The MLMP is not liable for damages or injuries you may incur while collecting data for the purpose of submission to the MLMP. Please exercise caution when collecting data, including maintaining awareness of your surroundings and of others who are in the field with you. Do not collect data on private property without the full and informed consent of landowners. The inclusion of children in monitoring activities should involve full and appropriate supervision by responsible caregivers.

Butterfly Collecting, Rearing, Observing

Collecting and rearing monarch eggs and larvae should always be done with appropriate care and precaution. Please be especially careful when handling milkweed. It is possible to damage your eyes if the milky latex from the milkweed is rubbed into them, especially if you wear contact lenses. Wash your hands after handling milkweed to minimize health risks.

We recommend that collectors abide by the Lepidopterists' Society Statement on Collecting, and in most cases, recommend that any monarchs collected and reared inside are released at the location of collection. Please only monitor public or community lands, or get permission before monitoring on private or protected areas. Be aware that catching butterflies or collecting eggs/caterpillars for rearing is forbidden in some areas, such as state or national protected areas. Know these regulations and obtain a permit prior to collection if one is required. The MLMP is not liable for costs incurred because of monarch collection efforts under any circumstances.

Read the Monarch Lab's position on Captive Breeding and Release.

Data Access Policy

The MLMP encourages researchers to disseminate findings in appropriate publications, based in whole or in part on MLMP data. All publication(s) or product(s) using MLMP data are requested to adhere to the policy outlined below.

MLMP data should not be used for publication in any format without permission, and without being accessed through the program managers (not the website). This is especially important because the data that are displayed on the website have not been vetted, and may contain inaccuracies. MLMP uses detailed cleaning criteria in any analyses, and publication of analyses based on the raw data are likely to lead to inaccurate conclusions. Site visitors are welcome to use the data from the website for educational purposes, or for informal analyses. Educators may use the data in a classroom setting for practice in managing and interpreting data, and students may present posters using the data at science fairs or other venues. Educators may publish articles or lessons about how they have utilized the data, but not articles for which the main purpose is to provide information about monarch biology or conservation. In the latter cases, teachers should submit a request for permission using the process outlined below. Teachers may link to the MLMP site on their school website or social media sites, but should not post the actual data.

Approval Process

Requests for data must be submitted to the project coordinator, Karen Oberhauser (, and must be accompanied by a 1-2 page written proposal outlining the nature and topic of the intended research. If the proposal is accepted, MLMP personnel will work with the proposers to ensure that interpretations are accurate, and provide the raw data. MLMP does not release any personal information about project volunteers.

Multiple Uses of MLMP Data

MLMP data are provided to researchers/authors/users with the understanding that they will be used specifically for the purposes identified in the request (e.g. proposed publication, MS or Ph.D. thesis, analysis for policy-makers, etc.). If the researchers wish to use the same data for a different purpose, they must re-request permission.

Redistribution of MLMP Data

Without specific approval, no data provided by the MLMP can be distributed beyond the individuals requesting the data. Raw data should not be made available for download through the Internet, but derived data (maps, tables) are usually acceptable. If you plan to present MLMP data on the Internet, the nature of the visualization(s) must be specified in your data request.

Fee for Data

MLMP data accessed through the web site for educational purposes do not entail any data processing fees (but see the caveats above). Requests that require additional manual data extractions or analyses will be charged a fee of $60 per hour to extract and assemble data, and to work with the requesters on appropriate cleaning criteria. MLMP will usually waive this fee for MLMP volunteers and students, and for publications that include MLMP personnel as co-authors.

Authorship and Acknowledgements

If a request for data includes proposed research with significant MLMP staff contributions, then agreement on the role of involved staff, joint authorship, and order of authors on publications must be reached before the data are released. MLMP review of manuscripts (or parts thereof) before submission to journals is requested as a courtesy.

The researchers agree to acknowledge MLMP (and MLMP volunteers) in all relevant publications using the following statement:

  1. Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. 2019. Data accessed from the MLMP, a joint program of the Monarch Joint Venture and University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum. Available: . Accessed: .

In addition, the following statement must be included in the acknowledgment section of any publication:

  1. We thank the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project for supplying data. We also thank all of the volunteer participants who gathered data for the project.

If data retrieved from the MLMP are to be used for web-based products (maps, summaries, etc.), please contact MLMP for instructions on applicable logo and website links.

Revocation of Privileges

Any researcher/author/user not abiding by this policy or the terms of the Data Request and Release Form and Publication Agreement may forfeit future access to MLMP data.

Contact Information

Project Coordinator: Karen Oberhauser,