Flapping wing aerodynamics: From insects to vertebrates

Diana D. Chin*, David Lentink

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

Onderzoeksoutputpeer review

172 Citaten (Scopus)
282 Downloads (Pure)


More than a million insects and approximately 11,000 vertebrates utilize flapping wings to fly. However, flapping flight has only been studied in a few of these species, so many challenges remain in understanding this form of locomotion. Five key aerodynamic mechanisms have been identified for insect flight. Among these is the leading edge vortex, which is a convergent solution to avoid stall for insects, bats and birds. The roles of the other mechanisms - added mass, clap and fling, rotational circulation and wing-wake interactions - have not yet been thoroughly studied in the context of vertebrate flight. Further challenges to understanding bat and bird flight are posed by the complex, dynamic wing morphologies of these species and the more turbulent airflow generated by their wings compared with that observed during insect flight. Nevertheless, three dimensionless numbers that combine key flow, morphological and kinematic parameters - the Reynolds number, Rossby number and advance ratio - govern flapping wing aerodynamics for both insects and vertebrates. These numbers can thus be used to organize an integrative framework for studying and comparing animal flapping flight. Here, we provide a roadmap for developing such a framework, highlighting the aerodynamic mechanisms that remain to be quantified and compared across species. Ultimately, incorporating complex flight maneuvers, environmental effects and developmental stages into this framework will also be essential to advancing our understandingofthe biomechanics, movement ecologyand evolution of animal flight.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)920-932
Aantal pagina's13
TijdschriftJournal of Experimental Biology
Nummer van het tijdschrift7
StatusPublished - 1-apr.-2016
Extern gepubliceerdJa

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