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A single wind-mediated mechanism explains high-altitude ‘non-goal oriented’ headings and layering of nocturnally migrating insects

A single wind-mediated mechanism explains high-altitude ‘non-goal oriented’ headings and layering of nocturnally migrating insects

Reynolds, Andy M., Reynolds, Don R., Smith, Alan D. and Chapman, Jason W. (2009) A single wind-mediated mechanism explains high-altitude ‘non-goal oriented’ headings and layering of nocturnally migrating insects. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277 (1682). pp. 765-772. ISSN 0962-8452 (Print), 1471-2954 (Online) (doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.1221)

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Abstract

Studies made with both entomological and meteorological radars over the last 40 years have frequently reported the occurrence of insect layers, and that the individuals forming these layers often show a considerable degree of uniformity in their headings—behaviour known as ‘common orientation’. The environmental cues used by nocturnal migrants to select and maintain common headings, while flying in low illumination levels at great heights above the ground, and the adaptive benefits of this behaviour have long remained a mystery. Here we show how a wind-mediated mechanism accounts for the common orientation patterns of ‘medium-sized’ nocturnal insects. Our theory posits a mechanism by which migrants are able to align themselves with the direction of the flow using a turbulence cue, thus adding their air speed to the wind speed and significantly increasing their migration distance. Our mechanism also predicts that insects flying in the Northern Hemisphere will typically be offset to the right of the mean wind line when the atmosphere is stably stratified, with the Ekman spiral in full effect. We report on the first evidence for such offsets, and show that they have significant implications for the accurate prediction of the flight trajectories of migrating nocturnal insects.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: orientation behaviour, windborne insect migration, nocturnal boundary layer, atmospheric dispersion models
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
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2014 15:55
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/3250

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