Massive seasonal high-altitude migrations of nocturnal insects above the agricultural plains of East China

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Huang, J., Feng, H., Drake, V. A., Reynolds, D. R., Gao, B., Chen, F., Zhang, G., Zhu, J., Gao, Y., Zhai, B., Li, G., Tian, C., Huang, B., Hug, G. and Chapman, J. W. 2024. Massive seasonal high-altitude migrations of nocturnal insects above the agricultural plains of East China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 121 (18), p. e2317646121. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2317646121

AuthorsHuang, J., Feng, H., Drake, V. A., Reynolds, D. R., Gao, B., Chen, F., Zhang, G., Zhu, J., Gao, Y., Zhai, B., Li, G., Tian, C., Huang, B., Hug, G. and Chapman, J. W.
Abstract

Long-distance migrations of insects contribute to ecosystem functioning but also have important economic impacts when the migrants are pests or provide ecosystem services. We combined radar monitoring, aerial sampling, and searchlight trapping, to quantify the annual pattern of nocturnal insect migration above the densely populated agricultural lands of East China. A total of ~9.3 trillion nocturnal insect migrants (15,000 t of biomass), predominantly Lepidoptera, Hemiptera, and Diptera, including many crop pests and disease vectors, fly at heights up to 1 km above this 600 km-wide region every year. Larger migrants (>10 mg) exhibited seasonal reversal of movement directions, comprising northward expansion during spring and summer, followed by southward movements during fall. This north–south transfer was not balanced, however, with southward movement in fall 0.66× that of northward movement in spring and summer. Spring and summer migrations were strongest when the wind had a northward component, while in fall, stronger movements occurred on winds that allowed movement with a southward component; heading directions of larger insects were generally close to the track direction. These findings indicate adaptations leading to movement in seasonally favorable directions. We compare our results from
China with similar studies in Europe and North America and conclude that ecological patterns and behavioral adaptations are similar across the Northern Hemisphere. The predominance of pests among these nocturnal migrants has severe implications for food security and grower prosperity throughout this heavily populated region, and knowledge of their migrations is potentially valuable for forecasting pest impacts and planning timely management actions.

KeywordsInsect migration; Radar entomology; Lepidoptera; Biomass flux; Crop pests
Year of Publication2024
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Journal citation121 (18), p. e2317646121
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2317646121
Open accessPublished as bronze (free) open access
FunderNational Natural Science Foundation of China
Science and Technology Planning Project of Henan Province
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online22 Apr 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted13 Mar 2024
PublisherNational Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
ISSN0027-8424

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