Mass seasonal bioflows of high-flying insect migrants

Gao Hu, Ka S. Lim, Nir Horvitz, Suzanne J. Clark, Don R. Reynolds, Nir Sapir, Jason W. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Migrating animals have an impact on ecosystems directly via influxes of predators, prey, and competitors and indirectly by vectoring nutrients, energy, and pathogens. Although linkages between vertebrate movements and ecosystem processes have been established, the effects of mass insect "bioflows" have not been described. We quantified biomass flux over the southern United Kingdom for high-flying (>150 meters) insects and show that ∼3.5 trillion insects (3200 tons of biomass) migrate above the region annually. These flows are not randomly directed in insects larger than 10 milligrams, which exploit seasonally beneficial tailwinds. Large seasonal differences in the southward versus northward transfer of biomass occur in some years, although flows were balanced over the 10-year period. Our long-term study reveals a major transport process with implications for ecosystem services, processes, and biogeochemistry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1584-1587
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume354
Issue number6319
DOIs
StatePublished - 23 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
G.H.'s visiting scholarship was funded by the China Scholarship Council. We acknowledge the support provided by COST-European Cooperation in Science and Technology through the Action ES1305 "ENRAM." The project was supported by UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council grant BB/J004286/1 to J.W.C. Data are available at Dryad at http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6kt29.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright ©2016 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science; all rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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