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Flight speeds among bird species: allometric and phylogenetic effects

Alerstam, Thomas LU ; Rosén, Mikael LU ; Bäckman, Johan LU ; Ericson, Pär and Hellgren, Olof LU (2007) In PLoS Biology 5(8). p.1656-1662
Abstract
Analysing the variation in flight speed among bird species is important in understanding flight. We tested if the cruising speed of different migrating bird species in flapping flight scales with body mass and wing loading according to predictions from aerodynamic theory and to what extent phylogeny provides an additional explanation for variation in speed. Flight speeds were measured by tracking radar for bird species ranging in size from 0.01 kg (small passerines) to 10 kg (swans). Equivalent airspeeds of 138 species ranged between 8 and 23 m/s and did not scale as steeply in relation to mass and wing loading as predicted. This suggests that there are evolutionary restrictions to the range of flight speeds that birds obtain, which... (More)
Analysing the variation in flight speed among bird species is important in understanding flight. We tested if the cruising speed of different migrating bird species in flapping flight scales with body mass and wing loading according to predictions from aerodynamic theory and to what extent phylogeny provides an additional explanation for variation in speed. Flight speeds were measured by tracking radar for bird species ranging in size from 0.01 kg (small passerines) to 10 kg (swans). Equivalent airspeeds of 138 species ranged between 8 and 23 m/s and did not scale as steeply in relation to mass and wing loading as predicted. This suggests that there are evolutionary restrictions to the range of flight speeds that birds obtain, which counteract too slow and too fast speeds among bird species with low and high wing loading, respectively. In addition to the effects of body size and wing morphology on flight speed, we also show that phylogeny accounted for an important part of the remaining speed variation between species. Differences in flight apparatus and behaviour among species of different evolutionary origin, and with different ecology and flight styles, are likely to influence cruising flight performance in important ways. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
PLoS Biology
volume
5
issue
8
pages
1656 - 1662
publisher
Public Library of Science
external identifiers
  • wos:000249124800004
  • scopus:41749088963
ISSN
1544-9173
DOI
10.1371/journal.pbio.0050197
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
eb3a03bb-0f41-459a-88a4-7387473320d0 (old id 631204)
date added to LUP
2007-11-28 15:08:11
date last changed
2017-11-05 03:43:08
@article{eb3a03bb-0f41-459a-88a4-7387473320d0,
  abstract     = {Analysing the variation in flight speed among bird species is important in understanding flight. We tested if the cruising speed of different migrating bird species in flapping flight scales with body mass and wing loading according to predictions from aerodynamic theory and to what extent phylogeny provides an additional explanation for variation in speed. Flight speeds were measured by tracking radar for bird species ranging in size from 0.01 kg (small passerines) to 10 kg (swans). Equivalent airspeeds of 138 species ranged between 8 and 23 m/s and did not scale as steeply in relation to mass and wing loading as predicted. This suggests that there are evolutionary restrictions to the range of flight speeds that birds obtain, which counteract too slow and too fast speeds among bird species with low and high wing loading, respectively. In addition to the effects of body size and wing morphology on flight speed, we also show that phylogeny accounted for an important part of the remaining speed variation between species. Differences in flight apparatus and behaviour among species of different evolutionary origin, and with different ecology and flight styles, are likely to influence cruising flight performance in important ways.},
  author       = {Alerstam, Thomas and Rosén, Mikael and Bäckman, Johan and Ericson, Pär and Hellgren, Olof},
  issn         = {1544-9173},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {8},
  pages        = {1656--1662},
  publisher    = {Public Library of Science},
  series       = {PLoS Biology},
  title        = {Flight speeds among bird species: allometric and phylogenetic effects},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0050197},
  volume       = {5},
  year         = {2007},
}