Flight kinematic and behavioural study of European pied flycatcher

Animal movement behavior has been an interesting topic for many years, whereby researchers have focused on many aspects including animal migration and dispersal, and the biomechanics, physiology and energetics of animal locomotion. Important model species for this research have been various species of birds because aerial locomotion is among the energetically most costly behaviors in nature, and birds are the longest distance migrants.

The recent development of accelerometers that can easily be attached to animals and that record accelerations at high temporal resolution has speeded up the investigation of animal movements. Different behaviors have been categorized, and energy consumption estimated through the high-resolution acceleration data. However, this kind of study has limited applications to small passerines due to their low body masses.

We aim to develop novel high-tech sensors and on-board processing algorithms that allow the use of these next-generation sensors for studying the movement dynamics of small passerines in unprecedented detail. Specifically, we will develop ultra-lightweight accelerometer loggers with on-board data processing techniques for identifying detailed behaviors (e.g., flying, resting, foraging, etc.) in passerines in the wild. Using detailed analysis of the flight dynamics of these freely flying animals we also aim to test whether high sampling rate accelerometer data (~100 Hz) can be used to identify different flight behaviors (e.g. commuting, hunting, gleaning) and estimate bird flight performance metrics such as aerodynamic force production and the energetic cost of flight.

The collaborators are:

Per Henningsson from the Lund University (Sweden)

Barbara Tomotani from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) (The Netherlands)

And Druid Technology Co., Ltd (China)