With dramatic change in global weather patterns, alterations are seen in climate, wind speed and other meteorological factors. These changes have drastically affected animals and plants behavior towards their environment as reported by Brandon Barton in a news release. Brandon Barton is a postdoctoral investigator at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr.Brandon with his team analyzed global stilling and its effect on foraging behavior of insects through his research work. The study is published in Journal of Ecology and was sponsored by National Science Foundation. He also shared his experience of witnessing a strong blow of wind bending stalks of corn with his students; the sight forced him to think about the insect dwelling on the stalk and the effect of a heavy gust on the tiny creature.
Global stilling, the term which defines the decline in speed of wind is a complex problem world is facing from past few years. A study with lead investigator Bichet A. reported 0.3% decrease in mid latitude land area wind velocity over a period of 30 years in northern hemisphere. This stilling is hazardous for environment causing significant damage to the ecosystem.
The study done in UW-Madison under Dr.Brandon focuses on the effect of changes in wind speed on insect’s behavior. The word foraging describes the insects’ habit to look for food resources, the behavior is typically important in maintaining an insect’s fitness while functioning and reproducing. This research has basically elaborated the side effects expected after a study previously published concluding 15% decrease in Midwest within the 21st century.
The investigators notified global warming as a major factor behind this stilling phenomenon. The rise in temperature worldwide has decelerated the wind velocity. The air revolving around the world is getting warm declining the temperature difference that led to formation of winds. Nevertheless, colder winds are required to produce strong winds.
For the research work, soybean plants were grown in alfalfa fields, some of the plants were left to grow in the open air, however in the other pots barricades were installed. The lady beetles with their prey soybean aphids were also made part of this experiment. It was observed that lady beetles were found more in plants which were sheltered as compared to aphids preferring windier climates. Although experiments proved presence of aphids in both the conditions but when the predators were added to plants with winds blockage, they eat aphids twice than normal.
Dr.Brandon concluded his study by saying that its difficult for a predator to feed on its prey if their entire world is moving. He also said that if the plant moves with a heavy gush of wind, it takes approximately four hours for the lady beetle to start eating and it eats less than half as many as aphids in an hour.