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The movement of small insects in the convective boundary layer: linking patterns to processes

The movement of small insects in the convective boundary layer: linking patterns to processes

Wainwright, Charlotte E., Stepanian, Phillip M., Reynolds, Don R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8749-7491 and Reynolds, Andy M. (2017) The movement of small insects in the convective boundary layer: linking patterns to processes. Scientific Reports, 7 (1):5438. pp. 1-8. ISSN 2045-2322 (Print), 2045-2322 (Online) (doi:

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In fine warm weather, the daytime convective atmosphere over land areas is full of small migrant insects, among them serious pests (e.g. some species of aphid), but also many beneficial species (e.g. natural enemies of pests). For many years intensive aerial trapping studies were the only way of determining the density profiles of these small insects, and for taxon-specific studies trapping is still necessary. However, if we wish to determine generic behavioural responses to air movements shown by small day-migrating insects as a whole, the combination of millimetre-wavelength ‘cloud radars’ and Doppler lidar now provides virtually ideal instrumentation. Here we examine the net vertical velocities of > 1 million insect targets, relative to the vertical motion of the air in which they are flying, as a succession of fair-weather convective cells pass over the recording site in Oklahoma, USA. The resulting velocity measurements are interpreted in terms of the flight behaviours of small insects. These behaviours are accounted for by a newly-developed Lagrangian stochastic model of weakly-flying insect movements in the convective boundary layer; a model which is consistent with classic characterisations of small insect aerial density profiles. We thereby link patterns to processes.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2017. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Uncontrolled Keywords: Migrant insects; Pests, Aerial trapping studies
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 15:30

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