A guide for using flight simulators to study the sensory basis of long-distance migration in insects

Dreyer, David, Frost, Barrie, Mouritsen, Henrik, Lefèvre, Adrien, Menz, Myles, and Warrant, Eric (2021) A guide for using flight simulators to study the sensory basis of long-distance migration in insects. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 15. 678936.

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Studying the routes flown by long-distance migratory insects comes with the obvious challenge that the animal’s body size and weight is comparably low. This makes it difficult to attach relatively heavy transmitters to these insects in order to monitor their migratory routes (as has been done for instance in several species of migratory birds. However, the rather delicate anatomy of insects can be advantageous for testing their capacity to orient with respect to putative compass cues during indoor experiments under controlled conditions. Almost 20 years ago, Barrie Frost and Henrik Mouritsen developed a flight simulator which enabled them to monitor the heading directions of tethered migratory Monarch butterflies, both indoors and outdoors. The design described in the original paper has been used in many follow-up studies to describe the orientation capacities of mainly diurnal lepidopteran species. Here we present a modification of this flight simulator design that enables studies of nocturnal long-distance migration in moths while allowing controlled magnetic, visual and mechanosensory stimulation. This modified flight simulator has so far been successfully used to study the sensory basis of migration in two European and one Australian migratory noctuid species.

Item ID: 71333
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1662-5153
Keywords: behavior, insects, navigation, orientation, sensory ecology
Copyright Information: © 2021 Dreyer, Frost, Mouritsen, Lefèvre, Menz and Warrant. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Date Deposited: 31 May 2022 01:43
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310301 Behavioural ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180606 Terrestrial biodiversity @ 100%
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