Animals that use flight as their mode of transportation must cope with the fact that their migration and orientation performance is strongly affected by the flow of the medium they are moving in, that is by the winds. Different strategies can be used to mitigate the negative effects and benefit from the positive effects of a moving flow. The strategies an animal can use will be constrained by the relationship between the speed of the flow and the speed of the animal's own propulsion in relation to the surrounding air. Here we analyse entomological and ornithological radar data from north-western Europe to investigate how two different nocturnal migrant taxa, the noctuid moth Autographa gamma and songbirds, deal with wind by analysing variation in resulting flight directions in relation to the wind-dependent angle between the animal's heading and track direction. Our results, from fixed locations along the migratory journey, reveal different global strategies used by moths and songbirds during their migratory journeys. As expected, nocturnally migrating moths experienced a greater degree of wind drift than nocturnally migrating songbirds, but both groups were more affected by wind in autumn than in spring. The songbirds' strategies involve elements of both drift and compensation, providing some benefits from wind in combination with destination and time control. In contrast, moths expose themselves to a significantly higher degree of drift in order to obtain strong wind assistance, surpassing the songbirds in mean ground speed, at the cost of a comparatively lower spatiotemporal migratory precision. Moths and songbirds show contrasting but adaptive responses to migrating through a moving flow, which are fine-tuned to the respective flight capabilities of each group in relation to the wind currents they travel within.
The natural resting orientations of several species of nocturnal moth on tree trunks were recorded over a three-month period in eastern Ontario, Canada. Moths from certain genera exhibited resting orientation distributions that differed significantly from random, whereas others did not. In particular, Catocala spp. collectively tended to orient vertically, whereas subfamily Larentiinae representatives showed a variety of orientations that did not differ significantly from random. To understand why different moth species adopted different orientations, we presented human subjects with a computer-based detection task of finding and 'attacking' Catocala cerogama and Euphyia intermediata target images at different orientations when superimposed on images of sugar maple (Acer saccharum) trees. For both C. cerogama and E. intermediata, orientation had a significant effect on survivorship, although the effect was more pronounced in C. cerogama. When the tree background images were flipped horizontally the optimal orientation changed accordingly, indicating that the detection rates were dependent on the interaction between certain directional appearance features of the moth and its background. Collectively, our results suggest that the contrasting wing patterns of the moths are involved in background matching, and that the moths are able to improve their crypsis through appropriate behavioural orientation.
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Changes in climate are influencing the distribution and abundance of the world's biota, with significant consequences for biological diversity and ecosystem processes. Recent work has raised concern that populations of moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) may be particularly susceptible to population declines under environmental change. Moreover, effects of climate change may be especially pronounced in high latitude ecosystems. Here, we examine population dynamics in an assemblage of subarctic forest moths in Finnish Lapland to assess current trajectories of population change. Moth counts were made continuously over a period of 32?years using light traps. From 456 species recorded, 80 were sufficiently abundant for detailed analyses of their population dynamics. Climate records indicated rapid increases in temperature and winter precipitation at our study site during the sampling period. However, 90% of moth populations were stable (57%) or increasing (33%) over the same period of study. Nonetheless, current population trends do not appear to reflect positive responses to climate change. Rather, time-series models illustrated that the per capita rates of change of moth species were more frequently associated negatively than positively with climate change variables, even as their populations were increasing. For example, the per capita rates of change of 35% of microlepidoptera were associated negatively with climate change variables. Moth life-history traits were not generally strong predictors of current population change or associations with climate change variables. However, 60% of moth species that fed as larvae on resources other than living vascular plants (e.g. litter, lichen, mosses) were associated negatively with climate change variables in time-series models, suggesting that such species may be particularly vulnerable to climate change. Overall, populations of subarctic forest moths in Finland are performing better than expected, and their populations appear buffered at present from potential deleterious effects of climate change by other ecological forces.
Multiple freeze-thaw cycles are common in alpine, polar and temperate habitats. We investigated the effects of five consecutive cycles of approx. -5 degrees C on the freeze-tolerant larvae of Pringleophaga marioni Viette (Lepidoptera: Tineidae) on sub-Antarctic Marion Island. The likelihood of freezing was positively correlated with body mass, and decreased from 70% of caterpillars that froze on initial exposure to 55% of caterpillars that froze on subsequent exposures; however, caterpillars retained their freeze tolerance and did not appear to switch to a freeze-avoiding strategy. Apart from an increase in gut water, there was no difference in body composition of caterpillars frozen 0 to 5 times, suggesting that the observed effects were not due to freezing, but rather to exposure to cold per se. Repeated cold exposure did not result in mortality, but led to decreased mass, largely accounted for by a decreased gut mass caused by cessation of feeding by caterpillars. Treatment caterpillars had fragile guts with increased lipid content, suggesting damage to the gut epithelium. These effects persisted for 5 days after the final exposure to cold, and after 30 days, treatment caterpillars had regained their pre-exposure mass, whereas their control counterparts had significantly gained mass. We show that repeated cold exposure does occur in the field, and suggest that this may be responsible for the long life cycle in P. marioni. Although mean temperatures are increasing on Marion Island, several climate change scenarios predict an increase in exposures to sub-zero temperatures, which would result in an increased generation time for P. marioni. Coupled with increased predation from introduced house mice on Marion Island, this could have severe consequences for the P. marioni population.
Goal-oriented migrants travelling through the sea or air must cope with the effect of cross-flows during their journeys if they are to reach their destination. In order to counteract flow-induced drift from their preferred course, migrants must detect the mean flow direction, and integrate this information with output from their internal compass, to compensate for the deflection. Animals can potentially sense flow direction by two nonexclusive mechanisms: either indirectly, by visually assessing the effect of the current on their movement direction relative to the ground; or directly, via intrinsic properties of the current. Here, we report the first evidence that nocturnal compass-guided insect migrants use a turbulence-mediated mechanism for directly assessing the wind direction hundreds of metres above the ground. By comparison, we find that nocturnally-migrating songbirds do not use turbulence to detect the flow; instead they rely on visual assessment of wind-induced drift to indirectly infer the flow direction.
Despite the turmoil of not-so-distant forest fires and United Airlines troubles that threw off travel schedules, some 2600 ecologists made their way to this sun-soaked canyon last month for the Ecological Society of America's 85th annual meeting. Topics ranged from ancient droughts to photosynthesis beneath snow and how trees resist insects.
We continued to study the diversity of responses of the grass moth Loxostege sticticalis L. to variations of density. We estimated the dynamics of the internal state of individuals and considered the influence of the population prehistory on ecological characteristics of the phytophage. In experiments on studying the structure of flower forms of the larval stage, we showed the dependence of the parameters of the internal state of individuals on prehistory, specifically on the conditions of life and type of individuals of the preceding generation. At the same time, comparison of the experimental results of 1991 and 1994 revealed a drift of the parameters of the reaction to variations in the grass moth population density by the structure of the larval flower forms and actual fertility of the imago. On the whole, the data obtained suggests that the studied species is characterized by a complex system of endogenous mechanisms underlying the regulation of numbers. The dynamics of environmental parameters is mediated by a cascade of endogenous rearrangements, as a result of which transition from depression to mass reproduction is realized through succession of the types of individuals in the population, when instead of a single phase, the flock phase starts to dominate.
The analysis is conducted on population dynamics of gypsy moth from different habitats of the South Urals. The pattern of cyclic changes in population density is examined, the assessment of temporal conjugation in time series of gypsy moth population dynamics from separate habitats of the South Urals is carried out, the relationships between population density and weather conditions are studied. Based on the results obtained, a statistical model of gypsy moth population dynamics in the South Urals is designed, and estimations are given of regulatory and modifying factors effects on the population dynamics.
We studied the effect of epidermal leaf mining on the leaf chemistry of quaking aspen, Populus tremuloides, during an outbreak of the aspen leaf miner, Phyllocnistis populiella, in the boreal forest of interior Alaska. Phyllocnistis populiella feeds on the epidermal cells of P. tremuloides leaves. Eleven days after the onset of leaf mining, concentrations of the phenolic glycosides tremulacin and salicortin were significantly higher in aspen leaves that had received natural levels of leaf mining than in leaves sprayed with insecticide to reduce mining damage. In a second experiment, we examined the time course of induction in more detail. The levels of foliar phenolic glycosides in naturally mined ramets increased relative to the levels in insecticide-treated ramets on the ninth day following the onset of leaf mining. Induction occurred while some leaf miner larvae were still feeding and when leaves had sustained mining over 5% of the leaf surface. Leaves with extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) had significantly higher constitutive and induced levels of phenolic glycosides than leaves lacking EFNs, but there was no difference in the ability of leaves with and without EFNs to induce phenolic glycosides in response to mining. Previous work showed that the extent of leaf mining damage was negatively related to the total foliar phenolic glycoside concentration, suggesting that phenolic glycosides deter or reduce mining damage. The results presented here demonstrate that induction of phenolic glycosides can be triggered by relatively small amounts of mining damage confined to the epidermal tissue, and that these changes in leaf chemistry occur while a subset of leaf miners are still feeding within the leaf.
BACKGROUND: Many studies investigating the ecosystem effects of global climate change have focused on arctic ecosystems because the Arctic is expected to undergo the earliest and most pronounced changes in response to increasing global temperatures, and arctic ecosystems are considerably limited by low temperatures and permafrost. In these nutrient limited systems, a warmer climate is expected to increase plant biomass production, primarily through increases in shrubs over graminoids and forbs. But, the influence of vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores has been largely absent in studies investigating the effects of vegetation responses to climate change, despite the fact that herbivory can have a major influence on plant community composition, biomass and nutrient cycling. Here, we present results from a multi-annual field experiment investigating the effects of vertebrate herbivory on plant biomass response to simulated climate warming in arctic Greenland. RESULTS: The results after four years of treatments did not give any clear evidence of increased biomass of shrubs in response climate warming. Nor did our study indicate that vertebrate grazing mediated any increased domination of shrubs over other functional plant groups in response to warming. However, our results indicate an important role of insect outbreaks on aboveground biomass. Intense caterpillar foraging from a two-year outbreak of the moth Eurois occulta during two growing seasons may have concealed any treatment effects. However, there was some evidence suggesting that vertebrate herbivores constrain the biomass production of shrubs over graminoids and forbs. CONCLUSION: Although inconclusive, our results were likely constrained by the overwhelming influence of an unexpected caterpillar outbreak on aboveground biomass. It is likely that the role of large vertebrate herbivores in vegetation response to warming will become more evident as this experiment proceeds and the plant community recovers from the caterpillar outbreak. Due to the greater influence of invertebrate herbivory in this study, it is advisable to consider both the effect of invertebrate and vertebrate herbivores in studies investigating climate change effects on plant communities.