Radar studies of the vertical distribution of insects migrating over southern Britain: the influence of temperature inversions on nocturnal layer concentrations
Reynolds, D.R., Chapman, J.W., Edwards, A.S., Smith, A.D., Wood, C. R., Barlow, J. F. and Woiwod, I.P. (2005) Radar studies of the vertical distribution of insects migrating over southern Britain: the influence of temperature inversions on nocturnal layer concentrations. Bulletin of Entomological Research, 95 (3). pp. 259-274. ISSN 0007-4853
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Insects migrating over two sites in southern UK (Malvern in Worcestershire, and Harpenden in Hertfordshire) have been monitored continuously with nutating vertical-looking radars (VLRs) equipped with powerful control and analysis software. These observations make possible, for the first time, a systematic investigation of the vertical distribution of insect aerial density in the atmosphere, over temporal scales ranging from the short (instantaneous vertical profiles updated every 15 min) to the very long (profiles aggregated over whole seasons or even years). In the present paper, an outline is given of some general features of insect stratification as revealed by the radars, followed by a description of occasions during warm nights in the summer months when intense insect layers developed. Some of these nocturnal layers were due to the insects flying preferentially at the top of strong surface temperature inversions, and in other cases, layering was associated with higher-altitude temperature maxima, such as those due to subsidence inversions. The layers were formed from insects of a great variety of sizes, but peaks in the mass distributions pointed to a preponderance of medium-sized noctuid moths on certain occasions.