Research Article

Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 933-943

First online:

Time-resolved wake structure and kinematics of bat flight

  • Tatjana Y. HubelAffiliated withBrown University Email author 
  • , Nickolay I. HristovAffiliated withBrown University
  • , Sharon M. SwartzAffiliated withBrown University
  • , Kenneth S. BreuerAffiliated withBrown University

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We present synchronized time-resolved measurements of the wing kinematics and wake velocities for a medium sized bat, Cynopterus brachyotis, flying at low-medium speed in a closed-return wind tunnel. Measurements of the motion of the body and wing joints, as well as the resultant wake velocities in the Trefftz plane are recorded at 200 Hz (approximately 28–31 measurements per wing beat). Circulation profiles are found to be quite repeatable although variations in the flight profile are visible in the wake vortex structures. The circulation has almost constant strength over the middle half of the wing beat (defined according the vertical motion of the wrist, beginning with the downstroke). A strong streamwise vortex is observed to be shed from the wingtip, growing in strength during the downstroke, and persisting during much of the upstroke. At relatively low flight speeds (4.3 m/s), a closed vortex structure behind the bat is postulated.