A nondestructive method of calculating the wing area of insects

2022 | journal article; research paper. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​A nondestructive method of calculating the wing area of insects​
Yu, K.; Reddy, G. V. P.; Schrader, J.; Guo, X.; Li, Y.; Jiao, Y. & Shi, P.​ (2022) 
Ecology and Evolution12(4).​ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8792 

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Yu, Kexin; Reddy, Gadi V. P.; Schrader, Julian; Guo, Xuchen; Li, Yirong; Jiao, Yabing; Shi, Peijian
Most insects engage in winged flight. Wing loading, that is, the ratio of body mass to total wing area, has been demonstrated to reflect flight maneuverability. High maneuverability is an important survival trait, allowing insects to escape natural enemies and to compete for mates. In some ecological field experiments, there is a need to calculate the wing area of insects without killing them. However, fast, nondestructive estimation of wing area for insects is not available based on past work. The Montgomery equation (ME), which assumes a proportional relationship between leaf area and the product of leaf length and width, is frequently used to calculate leaf area of plants, in crops with entire linear, lanceolate leaves. Recently, the ME was proved to apply to leaves with more complex shapes from plants that do not have any needle leaves. Given that the wings of insects are similar in shape to broad leaves, we tested the validity of the ME approach in calculating the wing area of insects using three species of cicadas common in eastern China. We compared the actual area of the cicadas’ wings with the estimates provided by six potential models used for wing area calculation, and we found that the ME performed best, based on the trade-off between model structure and goodness of fit. At the species level, the estimates for the proportionality coefficients of ME for three cicada species were 0.686, 0.693, and 0.715, respectively. There was a significant difference in the proportionality coefficients between any two species. Our method provides a simple and powerful approach for the nondestructive estimation of insect wing area, which is also valuable in quantifying wing morphological features of insects. The present study provides a nondestructive approach to estimating the wing area of insects, allowing them to be used in mark and recapture experiments.
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Ecology and Evolution 
Open-Access-Publikationsfonds 2022



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