, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 1-11

Advances in Animal Flight Aerodynamics Through Flow Measurement

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Introduction

Animal flight is a fruitful area of study for biologists because the abundance of extant and extinct forms radiating from a small handful of unrelated ancestral states provides such a rich resource filled with examples of variation and convergence. Uniting the disparate perspectives of engineering and classical fields of biology has given rise to an integrated biomechanical analysis aimed at understanding the physical basis governing animal morphology and locomotion. Over the past 8 years, Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) has revolutionised our ability to analyse bird (Spedding et al. 2003b), insect (Bomphrey et al. 2005) and bat (Hedenström et al. 2007) flight performance by quantifying the flow fields left in wakes as they fly in wind tunnels. In doing so, existing models have been variously rejected and supported (Spedding et al. 2003b), and paradoxes resolved (Warrick et al. 2009). Nevertheless, PIV remains a time-consuming enterprise, and the vast number of flying anim