Environmental Influences on Insect Flight Performance

EPA Grant Number: U915655
Title: Environmental Influences on Insect Flight Performance
Investigators: Dillon, Michael E.
Institution: University of Washington
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: September 1, 2000 through September 1, 2002
Project Amount: $95,850
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Ecology and Ecosystems


The objective of this research project is to investigate the relationship between insect flight and the physical properties of air.


Using a morphologically diverse group of tropical bees, the limits to flight performance using a load-lifting method have been assessed and compared to other flight performance assays. Initial findings suggest that bees possess large performance reserves that can be tapped during demanding flight situations, perhaps insulating the bees from the effects of small-scale changes in the physical environment. The study of flight performance of a morphologically diverse group of insects provides a description of what structural diversity is functionally relevant to flight. Changes in relevant structure can then be correlated with changes in flight performance. Using a combination of laboratory and field studies, this research will study how physical changes in the flight medium engender concomitant changes in morphology. The physical properties of air density, viscosity, and temperature will be systematically varied in the laboratory, and organism response in terms of flight performance will be measured. Evolutionary responses to natural variations in the flight medium will be examined by analyzing morphological diversity across altitudinal and latitudinal gradients.

Expected Results:

By integrating results from the two approaches, the investigator hopes to shed light on how global change can affect a large proportion of the earth's organisms.

Supplemental Keywords:

insect flight, global climate change, carbon dioxide, oxygen, flight performance, physiology., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, climate change, Atmospheric Sciences, Biology, ecosystem models, environmental monitoring, bees, global change, species response, climate variability, Global Climate Change, atmospheric models, biophysical factors

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001
  • Final