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A potential cost of responding to bats for moths flying over water

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Although the evasive flight of eared moths to attacking bats has received much attention in the literature, no studies have been made of the potential costs for this behaviour. We examined the fate of moths that land upon the surface of a lake in a simulation of an evasive power dive away from a bat. Of 102 different-sized moths from 18 species that were dropped onto the surface of a lake in eastern Ontario, Canada, 61% were eaten, on average, by fish in 31.3 s with no effect of wing surface area on escape success. These results suggest that nocturnal predation on moths by fish may be underestimated and that this behaviour may cause moths to avoid lakes when flying.

Bien que le vol d'évitement des papillons de nuit porteurs d'organes auditifs pour contrer les attaques des chauves-souris soit bien étudié dans la littérature, il n'y a pas d'étude des coûts potentiels de ce comportement. Nous avons déterminé le sort de papillons de nuits qui se sont posés à la surface d'un lac dans une simulation de vols de puissance d'évitement de chauves-souris. Soixante-et-un pour cent des 102 papillons de nuits de tailles diverses et appartenant à 18 espèces qui sont tombés sur la surface d'un lac de l'est de l'Ontario ont été consommés par les poissons en 31,3 s en moyenne, sans que la taille de la surface de l'aile n'ait eu d'effet sur le succès de la fuite. Ces observations indiquent que la prédation de nuit sur les papillons nocturnes par les poissons est sans doute sous-estimée et que ce comportement peut amener les papillons de nuit à éviter les lacs durant leurs vols. [Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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