Path meander of male codling moths (Cydia pomonella) foraging for sex pheromone plumes: Field validation of a novel method for quantifying path meander of random movers developed using computer simulations

Christopher Adams, Jeffrey Schenker, Paul Weston, Lawrence Gut, James Miller

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    Abstract

    Measures of path meander are highly relevant to studies of optimal foraging by animals. However, directly recording paths of small animals such as insects can be difficult because of small size or crepuscular activity. Computer simulations of correlated random walkers demonstrated that the rates of decay in captures across a rectangular grid of traps when movers were released at its corner can be used to produce calibration curves for quantifying path meander indirectly. Simulations using spatial parameters matching those previously documented for male codling moths (Cydia pomonella (L.)) foraging for female pheromone plumes in the field predicted that meander, as measured in circular standard deviation (c.s.d.) of turn angles between track segments, should be ca. 50 and 30 when the target population density is high vs. low, respectively. Thus, if optimized, the mean value measured for C. pomonella populations encountering an unknown target density should fall between these limits. We recorded decay in C. pomonella catch across a 5 × 5 grid of pheromone-baited traps each separated by 15 m on 39 occasions where batches of ca. 800 males were released 10 m outside the corner of trapping grids arranged in five large Michigan apple orchards. This decay constant was translated into mean c.s.d value for path meander using the standard curve generated by the computer simulations. The measured decay constant for C. pomonella males was negative 0.99 ± 0.02 (S.E.M.), which translates to a path meander of 37 ± 2 c.s.d. Thus, the measured path meander of 37 fell between the 50 and 30 values optimal for dense and sparse populations, respectively. In addition to providing a rare documented example of optimal foraging for odor plumes, this research offers proof-of-concept for a novel approach to quantifying path meander of movers that could prove useful across diverse taxa.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number549
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    JournalInsects
    Volume11
    Issue number9
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

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