Diversity, dynamics, direction, and magnitude of high-altitude migrating insects in the Sahel

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Reynolds, D. R. 2020. Diversity, dynamics, direction, and magnitude of high-altitude migrating insects in the Sahel. Scientific Reports. 10, p. 20523. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-77196-7

AuthorsReynolds, D. R.

Long-distance migration of insects impacts food security, public health, and conservation–issues that are especially signifcant in Africa. Windborne migration is a key strategy enabling exploitation of ephemeral havens such as the Sahel, however, its knowledge remains sparse. In this frst cross-season investigation (3 years) of the aerial fauna over Africa, we sampled insects fying 40–290 m above ground in Mali, using nets mounted on tethered helium-flled balloons. Nearly half a million insects were caught, representing at least 100 families from thirteen orders. Control nets confrmed that the insects were captured at altitude. Thirteen ecologically and phylogenetically diverse species were
studied in detail. Migration of all species peaked during the wet season every year across localities, suggesting regular migrations. Species difered in fight altitude, seasonality, and associated weather conditions. All taxa exhibited frequent fights on southerly winds, accounting for the recolonization of the Sahel from southern source populations. “Return” southward movement occurred in most taxa. Estimates of the seasonal number of migrants per species crossing Mali at latitude 14°N were in the trillions, and the nightly distances traversed reached hundreds of kilometers. The magnitude and diversity of windborne insect migration highlight its importance and impacts on Sahelian and neighboring ecosystems.

Year of Publication2020
JournalScientific Reports
Journal citation10, p. 20523
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-77196-7
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online25 Nov 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted28 Oct 2020
PublisherNature Publishing Group

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