Phototaxis and polarotaxis hand in hand

Night dispersal flight of aquatic insects distracted synergistically by light intensity and reflection polarization

Pál Boda, Gábor Horváth, G. Kriska, Miklós Blahó, Zoltán Csabai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Based on an earlier observation in the field, we hypothesized that light intensity and horizontally polarized reflected light may strongly influence the flight behaviour of night-active aquatic insects. We assumed that phototaxis and polarotaxis together have a more harmful effect on the dispersal flight of these insects than they would have separately. We tested this hypothesis in a multiple-choice field experiment using horizontal test surfaces laid on the ground. We offered simultaneously the following visual stimuli for aerial aquatic insects: (1) lamplit matte black canvas inducing phototaxis alone, (2) unlit shiny black plastic sheet eliciting polarotaxis alone, (3) lamplit shiny black plastic sheet inducing simultaneously phototaxis and polarotaxis, and (4) unlit matte black canvas as a visually unattractive control. The unlit matte black canvas trapped only a negligible number (13) of water insects. The sum (16,432) of the total numbers of water beetles and bugs captured on the lamplit matte black canvas (7,922) and the unlit shiny black plastic sheet (8,510) was much smaller than the total catch (29,682) caught on the lamplit shiny black plastic sheet. This provides experimental evidence for the synergistic interaction of phototaxis (elicited by the unpolarized direct lamplight) and polarotaxis (induced by the strongly and horizontally polarized plastic-reflected light) in the investigated aquatic insects. Thus, horizontally polarizing artificial lamplit surfaces can function as an effective ecological trap due to this synergism of optical cues, especially in the urban environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-395
Number of pages11
JournalDie Naturwissenschaften
Volume101
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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phototaxis
aquatic insects
light intensity
flight
polarization
plastics
plastic
insect
insect flight
flight behavior
polarized light
synergism
visual cue
beetle
water
Coleoptera
insects
testing

Keywords

  • Cue synergism
  • Ecological trap
  • Photopollution
  • Phototaxis
  • Polarized light pollution
  • Polarotaxis
  • Visual ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Phototaxis and polarotaxis hand in hand : Night dispersal flight of aquatic insects distracted synergistically by light intensity and reflection polarization. / Boda, Pál; Horváth, Gábor; Kriska, G.; Blahó, Miklós; Csabai, Zoltán.

In: Die Naturwissenschaften, Vol. 101, No. 5, 2014, p. 385-395.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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