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Orientation in high-flying migrant insects in relation to flows: mechanisms and strategies

Orientation in high-flying migrant insects in relation to flows: mechanisms and strategies

Reynolds, Andy M., Reynolds, Don R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8749-7491, Sane, Sanjay P., Hu, Gao and Chapman, Jason W. (2016) Orientation in high-flying migrant insects in relation to flows: mechanisms and strategies. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371 (1704). pp. 1-12. ISSN 0962-8436 (Print), 1471-2970 (Online) (doi:

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High-flying insect migrants have been shown to display sophisticated flight orientations that can, for example, maximize distance travelled by exploiting tailwinds, and reduce drift from seasonally optimal directions. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview of the theoretical and empirical evidence for the mechanisms underlying the selection and maintenance of the observed flight headings, and the detection of wind direction and speed, for insects flying hundreds of metres above the ground. Different mechanisms may be used—visual perception of the apparent ground movement or mechanosensory cues maintained by intrinsic features of the wind—depending on circumstances (e.g. day or night migrations). In addition to putative turbulence-induced velocity, acceleration and temperature cues, we present a new mathematical analysis which shows that 'jerks' (the time-derivative of accelerations) can provide indicators of wind direction at altitude. The adaptive benefits of the different orientation strategies are briefly discussed, and we place these new findings for insects within a wider context by comparisons with the latest research on other flying and swimming organisms.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] One contribution of 17 to a theme issue 'Moving in a moving medium: new perspectives on flight'. [2] © 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Flight orientation; Flow sensing; Optomotor responses; Turbulence directionality cues; Migration strategies
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Last Modified: 13 May 2019 15:16

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