Tactics and Vectors 98/99
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hip bug

Ask the Professor
Ask the tvectors Discussion Group


A section for answering questions encouraging discussion on topics related to long distance migration and dispersal by butterflies

To Ask A Question:


condor1) Email the question to dgibo@credit.erin.utoronto.caswallowr

2) FAX the question to 905 828 3792

3) Join tvectors and post the question to the group (pictured above).



This section has two functions. The first function is to answer questions, stimulate discussions, and encourage debate (through tvectors) about the process of long distance migration by butterflies and other insects. The second function is to answer questions relating to any problems or suggestions carrying out the research project.

With respect to the first function of the section, answering questions, stimulating discussions, and encouraging debate, I am most comfortable with topics that relate to the following topics: Cross-country soaring (e.g. what it consists of, how to recognise it, what sources of lift are available, possible reasons why all migrants don't do it etc.), Flight tactics involved in soaring cross-country (e.g. how to get from here to there, what options are available to handle favourable and unfavourable winds, what problems and opportunities are provided by mountains, how long should a butterfly stay in a thermal etc.), Limitations and advantages of the butterfly design for long distance migration (e.g.. airspeed and wind, crosswind compensation, temperature limits to flight ceiling, energy expenditures required for long distance migration, the effect of the extra mass consisting of lipid reserves on flight characteristics of the migrants, methods used by butterflies to deter or escape aerial attack by predators, possible increase risk of predation during high altitude, soaring, flight, the relation between known butterfly sensory systems and long distance migration, the aerodynamic role of scales, etc.), Soaring meteorology (e.g. conditions that favor cross-country soaring, structure and organisation of thermals, conditions that favor production of thermals, conditions that determine the maximum altitude that a butterfly should climb in a thermal, ridge lift, wave lift, properties of the nocturnal inversion, the significance of sea breeze fronts along the Gulf states, the relation between clouds and lift, flying in clouds, the effects of wind, fog, haze, rain and thunderstorms on available of lift, etc.), and Navigation (e.g.what navigation is, whether its necessary for butterfly migration, how could butterflies accomplish it, possible navigational mechanisms, possible navigational tactics). With respect to the second function, questions about the research program, I will answer all questions about field research and about the research program.

For any who are wondering what it must be like to ride a thermal to cloud base like a soaring monarch butterfly, or a soaring hawk, I will happily participate in the third function of the section, answering any questions about the sport of flying gliders. Frequently asked questions include: What happens when the wind stops? What keeps them up? Can you control where you are going? Do you need a parachute? How fast can a glider fly? How high can a glider fly? Where can I go to get an introductory glider ride? How much does a ride cost? Do instructors ride with you in the glider? How old do you have to be to get a learners permit or a license? What is required to qualify for a glider pilots license? How much do lessons cost? How long does it take to learn to fly gliders? Where can I get lessons? What types of badges, records, and contests are available for glider pilots? How much does a glider cost? Where can I get one? Can I legally build one and fly it? Will it fit in my garage? How will I get my home- built glider to the glider port? Where can I get more information?

There are three methods sending questions as listed above. If you wish to send questions to me directly, use email or FAX. Because I am the only one at the keyboard, I will often not be able to get back to you for a few days. I plan to refer questions on rearing monarch butterflies and tagging to Monarch Watch. In some cases, even after checking my reference books and walking down the hall to ask my colleagues, I will not have an answer. To minimise these occurrences, I also encourage people to post questions to tvectors. The larger forum allows those with greater knowledge in aerodynamics, meteorology, energetics, taxonomy, game theory, foraging theory, sensory physiology, and more field experience, to contribute. Because our ignorance about butterfly migration is vast, we need all the help we can get. Finally, a discussion by a group of enthusiasts of an interesting and/or controversial topic tends to introduce new ideas and provide new insights for all concerned.

NOTE: if you post your questions by email or fax, be sure to indicate if you prefer that I not forward them to tvectors. I plan to do this whenever I think that a question or comment would be interest to the group.