Observations of movement dynamics of flying insects using high resolution lidar

Carsten Thure Kirkeby, Maren Wellenreuther, Mikkel Brydegaard

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    Insects are fundamental to ecosystem functioning and biodiversity, yet the study of insect movement, dispersal and activity patterns remains a challenge. Here we present results from a novel high resolution laser-radar (lidar) system for quantifying flying insect abundance recorded during one summer night in Sweden. We compare lidar recordings with data from a light trap deployed alongside the lidar. A total of 22808 insect were recorded, and the relative temporal quantities measured matched the quantities recorded with the light trap within a radius of 5 m. Lidar records showed that small insects (wing size <2.5 mm2 in cross-section) moved across the field and clustered near the light trap around 22:00 local time, while larger insects (wing size >2.5 mm2 in cross-section) were most abundant near the lidar beam before 22:00 and then moved towards the light trap between 22:00 and 23:30. We could distinguish three insect clusters based on morphology and found that two contained insects predominantly recorded above the field in the evening, whereas the third was formed by insects near the forest at around 21:30. Together our results demonstrate the capability of lidar for distinguishing different types of insect during flight and quantifying their movements.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number29083
    JournalScientific Reports
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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