The Royal Society

Supplementary material from "The most remarkable migrants—systematic analysis of the Western European insect flyway at a pyrenean mountain pass"

Posted on 2024-06-03 - 15:50
In autumn 1950 David and Elizabeth Lack chanced upon a huge migration of insects and birds flying through the Pyrenean Pass of Bujaruelo, from France into Spain, later describing the spectacle as combining both grandeur with novelty. The intervening years have seen many changes to land use and climate, posing the question as to the current status of this migratory phenomenon. In addition, a lack of quantitative data has prevented insights into the ecological impact of this mass insect migration and the factors that may influence it. To address this, we revisited the site in autumn over a 4-year period and systematically monitored abundance and species composition of diurnal insect migrants. We estimate an annual mean of 17.1 million day-flying insect migrants from five orders (Diptera, Hymenoptera, Hemiptera, Lepidoptera and Odonata) moving south, with observations of southward ‘mass migration’ events associated with warmer temperatures, the presence of a headwind, sunlight, low windspeed and low rainfall. Diptera dominated the migratory assemblage and annual numbers varied by more than fourfold. Numbers at this single site hint at the likely billions of insects crossing the entire Pyrenean mountain range each year and we highlight the importance of this route for seasonal insect migrants.


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Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences


Will L Hawkes
Toby Doyle
Richard Massy
Scarlett Weston
Kelsey Davies
Elliott Cornelius
Connor Collier
Jason W. Chapman
Don R. Reynolds
Karl Wotton
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