University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
College of Biological Sciences

Karen S. Oberhauser

Ph. D. University of Minnesota, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
Associate Professor, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology
Phone: 612-624-8706

Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Faculty Page


Fields of Interest

Invertebrate conservation and ecology, with particular interest in monarch butterflies; Citizen Science and ecological monitoring; Promoting a citizenry with a high degree of scientific and environmental literacy.


My students and I conduct research on several aspects of monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) ecology. Our work has addressed their reproductive ecology, effects of investment in ejaculates by males on fitness and mating patterns in both sexes, a neogregarine protozoan parasite of monarchs, factors affecting the distribution and abundance of immature monarch stages, and risks posed by global climate change, insecticide use and genetically-modified crops. I have a strong interest in engaging K-12 students and teachers in inquiry-based science and promoting a citizenry with a high degree of scientific and environmental literacy. To this end, I have developed a comprehensive science education program called Monarchs in the Classroom. The program involves courses and workshops for teachers, a nationwide Citizen Science project called the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, curriculum development, and distribution of monarch eggs and larvae to classroom teachers.

Recent Publications

  • Bartel, RE, KS Oberhauser, JC De Roode, SM Altizer. 2011. Monarch migration, seasonal habitat use and parasite transmission in eastern North America. Ecology 92(2): 342-351.
  • Fargione, JE, TR Cooper, DJ Flaspohler, J Hill, C Lehman, T McCoy, S McLeod, EJ Nelson, KS Oberhauser, D Tilman. 2009. Bioenergy and wildlife: Threats and opportunities for grassland conservation. Bioscience 59:767-777.
  • Lindsey, E., M. Mudresh, V. Dhulipala, K. Oberhauser, S. Altizer. 2009. Crowding and disease: effects of host density on resonse to infection in a butterfly-parasite interaction. Ecological Entomology, in press.
  • Solensky, M.S. and K. S. Oberhauser. 2009. Sperm precedence in monarch butterflies Danaus plexippus). Behavioural Ecology, doi: 10.1093/beheco/arp003
  • Solensky, M.S. and K. S. Oberhauser. 2009. Male monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) adjust their ejaculates in response to risk and intensity of sperm competition. Animal Behaviour 77:465-472.