Periodic Reporting for period 1 - InsectMigration (Understanding insect migration behaviour and pathways using individual tracking and radar)
Reporting period: 2019-02-01 to 2021-01-31
This will be the first study of its kind to combine the state-of-the-art methods of individual insect tracking (using radio-telemetry) and radar methods to record migratory behaviour and direction, while also investigating departure decisions along the migratory route. Therefore, results from the proposed research will have wide-ranging impacts for understanding the mechanisms behind insect migrations and the movement patterns of both species of conservation concern and pest species, and facilitate effective management actions. Understanding insect movements and landscape use will also have significant implications for identifying the mechanisms that contribute to the observed patterns of insect population decline.
Using a unique combination of individual tracking, vertical-looking radar and trapping data, we investigated the migratory behaviour of hawkmoths to provide insight into migratory routes and departure decisions. In this project, we aimed to investigate two main sets of objectives, which provide the basis for three work packages:
Objective 1 (Work Package 1): Our objective was to investigate the influence of radio-transmitters on the flight behaviour of hawkmoths in the field and the laboratory. Secondly, we investigated the movement behaviour of hawkmoths to gain important baseline information on flight behaviour, movements and home range size.
Objective 2 (Work Packages 2 and 3): Our objectives were to elucidate the migratory pathways of hawkmoths, to understand migratory flight and orientation behaviour in relation to topography and weather conditions along these routes. Furthermore, we aimed to investigate which factors influence individual departure decisions and stopovers en route.
During the course of the project, we operated a specialised entomological radar to investigate the behaviour of migrating insects, in particular hawkmoths, in relation to local wind conditions. The radar data complements the individual tracking data that we have collected and will be used to elucidate patterns of insect behaviour across the migration season. In addition to the radar data, we have continued to collect data on the migration phenology of hawkmoths through high-altitude passes in the Swiss Alps, a key bottleneck for flying migrants. In combination, our data will allow us to gain a unique insight into the ecology and behaviour of these enigmatic migrants.
Results of this project have been disseminated to scientific audiences at conferences (in Germany and the United Kingdom) and via presentation at workshops and invited seminars, and lectures to students (in Germany, Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom). Results of the project have also been disseminated to the broader public via articles in magazines and newspapers. We have also published a number of scientific papers throughout the course of the project, relating to the migration behaviour of insects in response to winds, quantification of insects using techniques such as radar, and interpreting patterns of insect decline.