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An analytical study on leader and follower switching in V-shaped Canada Goose flocks for energy management purposes


Migrating birds may take advantage of V-shaped flocking to reduce the required energy for their flight. Studies have shown that the birds in different positions in V-shaped flight contend with different drag forces. Lead and follower birds may have to overcome more drag forces than the other birds in a V-shaped flock. Some observations of different kinds of flocking birds repositioning within a flock have been reported. This observation is here interpreted in an energetic context as well as its aerodynamic aspects. This paper presents the repositioning aerodynamics analysis of birds that fly in V-shaped flocks and their energy-saving consequences. This analysis demonstrates how Canada Geese can fly very far in a single day through repositioning. Extensive analysis shows that leader and tail position switching of 14 Canada Geese can improve the flight range and endurance of these migrating birds more than 44.6%. This study gives the guidelines for energy saving and optimization of flocking migrating birds through evolution.

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Correspondence to M. Hassanalian.

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Mirzaeinia, A., Heppner, F. & Hassanalian, M. An analytical study on leader and follower switching in V-shaped Canada Goose flocks for energy management purposes. Swarm Intell (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11721-020-00179-x

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  • Canada Geese
  • Drag
  • Energy
  • Flock
  • Leader
  • Reconfiguration