Nature's Flyers: Birds, Insects, and the Biomechanics of Flight

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JHU Press, Nov 17, 2004 - Science - 384 pages
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David E. Alexander's fascination with the many animals and plants that have harnessed the air is evident in Nature's Flyers: Birds, Insects, and the Biomechanics of Flight, a detailed account of our current scientific understanding of the primary aspects of flight in nature.

Instead of relying on elaborate mathematical equations, Alexander explains the physical basis of flight with sharp prose and clear diagrams. Drawing upon bats, birds, insects, pterosaurs, and even winged seeds, he details the basic operating principles of wings and then moves progressively through more complex modes of animal flight, including gliding, flapping, and maneuvering. In addition to summarizing the latest thinking about flight's energy costs, Alexander presents a holistic view of flight and its ramifications as he explores the ecology and evolution of flying animals, addressing behaviorally important topics such as migration and navigation. With somewhat surprising answers, the author then concludes his study by examining the extent to which natural flight has been inspiring or instructive for the architects of human flight—airplane designers and engineers.

 

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Contents

ONE Introduction
1
TWO How Wings Work
8
THREE Gliding and Soaring
36
FOUR Flapping and Hovering
70
Fl VE Staying on Course and Changing Direction
111
SIX Fueling Flight 740
140
SEVEN Evolving Flyers
165
Energetics of Migration 223 Fuel for Migration 226
226
NINE Finding the Way
242
TEN The Global Impact of Animal Flight
261
ELEVEN Have the Birds and Bees Taught Us Anything Useful?
288
Notes
311
Glossary
323
Bibliography
329
Index
347
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About the author (2004)

David E. Alexander is an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Kansas.

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