Nav: Home

An astounding number of insects migrate overhead

December 22, 2016

A decade of monitoring aerial insect migration reveals that trillions of individuals travel above us each year. Migration contributes greatly to seasonal exchanges of biomass and nutrients across the Earth's surface; however, even though insect migration surpasses all other aerial migratory phenomena in terms of sheer abundance, it remains largely unquantified. Here, Gao Hu and colleagues set up vertical-looking entomological radars (VLRs) in the southern U.K. to track the migration of flying insects, gathering data for nearly a decade. The results reveal that an annual mean of 3.37 trillion insects migrated high above the region, comprising 3,200 tons of biomass. The majority of migration, more than 70% in terms of biomass, occurred during daytime. The authors report that migration intensity was greatest on warm days, with moderate to high surface heat flux and low surface wind speeds. Analysis of wind trends and migration revealed that large insects exploit seasonally beneficial tailwinds to get from A to B. As well, surface and high-altitude daytime wind directions were strongly correlated; thus the authors propose that surface wind direction provides a reliable cue regarding the suitability of winds for daytime travelers at take-off, but not for nocturnal migrants, which must use other methods for assessing high-altitude wind direction. Lastly, over the 10-year course of the study, the overall northward movements of larger insects in the spring was found to cancel out southern migration in the fall; however, on an annual basis, the net flux could be up to 200 tons greater in either direction, the authors report.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Biomass Articles:

Ecology insights improve plant biomass degradation by microorganisms
Microbes are widely used to break down plant biomass into sugars, which can be used as sustainable building blocks for novel biocompounds.
Termite gut holds a secret to breaking down plant biomass
In the Microbial Sciences Building at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the incredibly efficient eating habits of a fungus-cultivating termite are surprising even to those well acquainted with the insect's natural gift for turning wood to dust.
Scientists harness solar power to produce clean hydrogen from biomass
A team of scientists at the University of Cambridge has developed a way of using solar power to generate a fuel that is both sustainable and relatively cheap to produce.
How much biomass grows in the savannah?
The ability of the savannahs to store the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is ultimately determined by the amount of aboveground woody biomass.
Economics of forest biomass raise hurdles for rural development
The use of residual forest biomass for rural development faces significant economic hurdles that make it unlikely to be a source of jobs in the near future, according to an analysis by economists.
Biomass heating could get a 'green' boost with the help of fungi
In colder weather, people have long been warming up around campfires and woodstoves.
Unraveling the science behind biomass breakdown
Using the Titan supercomputer, an ORNL team created models of up to 330,000 atoms that led to the discovery of a THF-water cosolvent phase separation on the faces of crystalline cellulose fiber.
US holds potential to produce billion tons of biomass, support bioeconomy
The 2016 Billion-Ton Report, jointly released by the US Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, concludes that the United States has the potential to sustainably produce at least 1 billion dry tons of nonfood biomass resources annually by 2040.
Improving poor soil with burned up biomass
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan have shown that torrefied biomass can improve the quality of poor soil found in arid regions.
Women cooking with biomass fuels more likely to have cataracts
Women in India who cook using fuels such as wood, crop residues and dried dung instead of cleaner fuels are more likely to have visually impairing nuclear cataracts, according to a new study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Related Biomass Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Don't Fear Math
Why do many of us hate, even fear math? Why are we convinced we're bad at it? This hour, TED speakers explore the myths we tell ourselves and how changing our approach can unlock the beauty of math. Guests include budgeting specialist Phylecia Jones, mathematician and educator Dan Finkel, math teacher Eddie Woo, educator Masha Gershman, and radio personality and eternal math nerd Adam Spencer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#517 Life in Plastic, Not Fantastic
Our modern lives run on plastic. It's in the computers and phones we use. It's in our clothing, it wraps our food. It surrounds us every day, and when we throw it out, it's devastating for the environment. This week we air a live show we recorded at the 2019 Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, D.C., where Bethany Brookshire sat down with three plastics researchers - Christina Simkanin, Chelsea Rochman, and Jennifer Provencher - and a live audience to discuss plastics in our oceans. Where they are, where they are going, and what they carry with them. Related links:...