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Orientation cues for high-flying nocturnal insect migrants: do turbulence-induced temperature and velocity fluctuations indicate the mean wind flow?

Orientation cues for high-flying nocturnal insect migrants: do turbulence-induced temperature and velocity fluctuations indicate the mean wind flow?

Reynolds, Andy M., Reynolds, Don R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8749-7491, Smith, Alan D. and Chapman, Jason W. (2010) Orientation cues for high-flying nocturnal insect migrants: do turbulence-induced temperature and velocity fluctuations indicate the mean wind flow? PLoS ONE, 5 (12). ISSN 1932-6203 (eISSN) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0015758)

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Abstract

Migratory insects flying at high altitude at night often show a degree of common alignment, sometimes with quite small angular dispersions around the mean. The observed orientation directions are often close to the downwind direction and this would seemingly be adaptive in that large insects could add their self-propelled speed to the wind speed, thus maximising their displacement in a given time. There are increasing indications that high-altitude orientation may be maintained by some intrinsic property of the wind rather than by visual perception of relative ground movement. Therefore, we first examined whether migrating insects could deduce the mean wind direction from the turbulent fluctuations in temperature. Within the atmospheric boundary-layer, temperature records show characteristic ramp-cliff structures, and insects flying downwind would move through these ramps whilst those flying crosswind would not. However, analysis of vertical-looking radar data on the common orientations of nocturnally migrating insects in the UK produced no evidence that the migrants actually use temperature ramps as orientation cues. This suggests that insects rely on turbulent velocity
and acceleration cues, and refocuses attention on how these can be detected, especially as small-scale turbulence is usually held to be directionally invariant (isotropic). In the second part of the paper we present a theoretical analysis and simulations showing that velocity fluctuations and accelerations felt by an insect are predicted to be anisotropic even when the small-scale turbulence (measured at a fixed point or along the trajectory of a fluid-particle) is isotropic. Our results thus provide further evidence that insects do indeed use turbulent velocity and acceleration cues as indicators of the mean wind direction.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] Copyright: © 2010 Reynolds et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Official citation: Reynolds AM, Reynolds DR, Smith AD, Chapman JW, 2010 Orientation Cues for High-Flying Nocturnal Insect Migrants: Do Turbulence-Induced Temperature and Velocity Fluctuations Indicate the Mean Wind Flow? PLoS ONE 5(12): e15758. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015758.
Uncontrolled Keywords: orientation cues, nocturnal, insect migrants
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: 18 Nov 2016 21:05
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/4111

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