Browsing by Author "Williams, Hannah J."
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- Data packageData from: Individual tracking reveals long-distance flightpath control in a nocturnally-migrating moth(2022-08-13) Menz, Myles H.M.; Scacco, Martina; Bürki-Spycher, Hans-Martin; Williams, Hannah J.; Reynolds, Don R.; Chapman, Jason W.; Wikelski, MartinEach year, trillions of insects make long-range seasonal migrations. These movements are relatively well understood at a population level, but how individual insects achieve them remains elusive. Behavioral responses to conditions en route are little studied, primarily owing to the challenges of tracking individual insects. Using a light aircraft and individual radio tracking, we show that nocturnally migrating death’s-head hawkmoths maintain control of their flight trajectories over long distances. The moths did not just fly with favorable tailwinds; during a given night, they also adjusted for head and crosswinds to precisely hold course. This behavior indicates that the moths use a sophisticated internal compass to maintain seasonally beneficial migratory trajectories independent of wind conditions, illuminating how insects traverse long distances to take advantage of seasonal resources.
- Data packageData from: Vultures respond to challenges of near-ground thermal soaring by varying bank angle(2018-11-27) Williams, Hannah J.; Shepard, Emily L.C.; Duriez, OlivierMany large birds rely on thermal soaring flight to travel cross-country. As such, they are under selective pressure to minimise the time spent gaining altitude in thermal updrafts. Birds should be able to maximise their climb rates by maintaining a position close to the thermal core through careful selection of bank angle and airspeed, however, there have been few direct measurements of either parameter. Here we apply a novel methodology to quantify the bank angles selected by soaring birds using on-board magnetometers. We couple these data with airspeed measurements to parameterise the soaring envelope of two species of Gyps vulture, from which it is possible to predict “optimal” bank angles. Our results show that these large birds respond to the challenges of gaining altitude in the initial phase of the climb, where thermal updrafts are weak and narrow, by adopting relatively high, and conserved, bank angles (25-35°). The angle of bank decreased with increasing altitude, in a manner that was broadly consistent with a strategy of maximising the rate of climb. However, the lift coefficients estimated in our study were lower than those predicted by theoretical models and wind-tunnel studies. Overall, our results highlight how the relevant currency for soaring performance changes within individual climbs; when thermal radius is limiting, birds vary bank angle and maintain a constant airspeed, but speed increases later in the climb in order to respond to decreasing air density.