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A seasonal switch in compass orientation in a high-flying migrant moth

A seasonal switch in compass orientation in a high-flying migrant moth

Chapman, Jason W., Reynolds, Don R., Hill, Jane K., Sivell, Duncan, Smith, Alan D. and Woiwod, Ian P. (2008) A seasonal switch in compass orientation in a high-flying migrant moth. Current Biology, 18 (19). R908-R909. ISSN 0960-9822 (doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.08.014)

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Abstract

Most individual insect migrants have only a short time ‘window’ for migration (just a few nights) and comparatively slow airspeeds. Thus, to achieve long-range displacement into temporary breeding habitats, migrants must hitch a ride on fast-moving, high-altitude winds [1]. We recently demonstrated that the migratory noctuid moth Autographa gamma has evolved a compass mechanism which facilitates the successful return of autumn migrants from the United Kingdom to their winter ranges further south via the selection of favourable high-altitude winds [2]; this was the first convincing evidence of such a mechanism in insects that migrate predominantly at high altitudes. As pointed out in a commentary on that work [3], the question of whether or not a similar mechanism promotes northwards migration of such insects during the spring remained unanswered — we do not know if there is a reversal of the migrants' preferred compass orientation according to season. Here, studying A. gamma once again, we report the first evidence that a nocturnal migrant moth controls the direction of both its spring (‘forward’) and autumn (‘return’) high-altitude migrations, and that it also optimises its flight-altitude and compensates for cross-wind drift in a similar manner in both directions

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: insect migration, compensation, drift
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Faculty of Engineering & Science
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2015 13:59
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/2113

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