Aeroecology pp 145-178 | Cite as

Riders on the Wind: The Aeroecology of Insect Migrants

  • Don R. ReynoldsEmail author
  • Jason W. Chapman
  • V. Alistair Drake


Migratory flight close to the Earth’s surface (within the so-called flight boundary layer) occurs in some insects, but the vast majority of migrants ascend above this layer and harness the power of the wind for transport. The resulting displacements range from dispersive movements over a few tens of metres to seasonal migrations covering thousands of kilometres. In this chapter, we summarize knowledge of the use of the aerosphere by insects, focusing particularly on longer migrations, in relation to: the height and duration of flight, direction and speed of movement, seasonal and diel patterns, and responses to atmospheric conditions and phenomena. The seasonal mass movements have major ecological consequences in the invaded areas, and these are discussed briefly. We also highlight recent comparisons of insect movement strategies with those of flying vertebrates and mention interactions between these groups in the atmosphere. We conclude with some suggestions for the future development of these topics.



We acknowledge the support provided by COST—European Cooperation in Science and Technology through the Action ES1305 ‘European Network for the Radar Surveillance of Animal Movement’ (ENRAM). JWC acknowledges support of Rothamsted Research, where he was employed during much of the drafting process; Rothamsted Research is a national institute of bioscience strategically funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Don R. Reynolds
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jason W. Chapman
    • 2
  • V. Alistair Drake
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Natural Resources InstituteUniversity of GreenwichKentUK
  2. 2.Centre for Ecology and Conservation, and Environment and Sustainability InstituteUniversity of ExeterPenryn, CornwallUK
  3. 3.School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical SciencesUniversity of New South Wales at CanberraCanberraAustralia
  4. 4.Institute for Applied EcologyUniversity of CanberraCanberraAustralia

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