Mass seasonal bioflows of high-flying insect migrants.
American Association for the Advancement of Science
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.
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 BBSRC grant BB/J004286/1 to J.W.C.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 354, pp. 1584 - 1587
Place of publication