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Adaptive strategies of high-flying migratory hoverflies in response to wind currents

Adaptive strategies of high-flying migratory hoverflies in response to wind currents

Gao, Boya, Wotton, Karl R. ORCID: 0000-0002-8672-9948, Hawkes, Will L. S., Menz, Myles H. M. ORCID: 0000-0002-3347-5411, Reynolds, Don R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8749-7491, Zhai, Bao-Ping, Hu, Gao ORCID: 0000-0002-1000-5687 and Chapman, Jason W. ORCID: 0000-0002-7475-4441 (2020) Adaptive strategies of high-flying migratory hoverflies in response to wind currents. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 287 (1928):20200406. ISSN 0962-8452 (Print), 1471-2954 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.0406)

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Abstract

Large migrating insects, flying at high altitude, often exhibit complex behaviour. They frequently elect to fly on winds with directions quite different from the prevailing direction, and they show a degree of common orientation, both of which facilitate transport in seasonally beneficial directions. Much less is known about the migration behaviour of smaller (10–70 mg) insects. To address this issue, we used radar to examine the high-altitude flight of hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae), a group of day-active, medium-sized insects commonly migrating over the UK. We found that autumn migrants, which must move south, did indeed show migration timings and orientation responses that would take them in this direction, despite the unfavourability of the prevailing winds. Evidently, these hoverfly migrants must have a compass (probably a time-compensated solar mechanism), and a means of sensing the wind direction (which may be determined with sufficient accuracy at ground level, before take-off). By contrast, hoverflies arriving in the UK in spring showed weaker orientation tendencies, and did not correct for wind drift away from their seasonally adaptive direction (northwards). However, the spring migrants necessarily come from the south (on warm southerly winds), so we surmise that complex orientation behaviour may not be so crucial for the spring movements.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Episyrphus balteatus, Eupeodes corollae, flight behaviour, insect migration, orientation, sun compass
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / Department / 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: 06 Jun 2020 21:41
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/28453

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