Photo by Floris van Breugel - Dickinson Lab

Onderwerp scriptie

How to fly with holes in your wings?

The effect of molt on the escape flight performance in Pied Flycatchers.

Every year, birds renew their plumage to replace their worn and damaged feathers. But during this so-called molt process, the wings will have molt gaps at certain times due to missing feathers. These gaps have a detrimental effect on the aerodynamics around the wing, resulting in a reduction of flight performance and overall fitness. In collaboration with NIOO-KNAW, the Experimental Zoology Group of Wageningen UR studies the effect of molt on fitness by measuring the in-flight escape performance of molting and non-molting Pied Flycatchers. The Pied Flycatcher is a small migratory passerine with a very aerial lifestyle, as it can hover and catches insects on the wing. Therefore, the effect of molt on fitness can be expected to be particularly high for this species. We will measure escape flight performance in molting and non-molting Pied Flycatchers by filming escape flights of these birds with a stereoscopic high-speed camera system. Using the video data, we will then track the 3D movements of the bird and its wings, and extract flight performance metrics such as escape velocity. For this project, we are looking for a skilled and enthusiastic student that can perform the flight experiments and analyse the high-speed video data. It is important to note that the experiments need to be performed during the field season in May-June (at the Animal Ecology Department of NIOO-KNAW). Data analyses can be performed at a later point in time at the Experimental Zoology Group of Wageningen UR.

Examiner: prof.dr. Johan van Leeuwen
Supervisors: Florian Muijres
Barbara Tomotani (NIOO)
Contact: Florian Muijres (via contact form)
Barbara Tomotani
Credits: 36 or 39 ECTS
For: MSc Animal Sciences, Biology or Forest and Nature Conservation
Requirements: Completed Functional Zoology or Developmental Biology of Animals
Used skills: Experimental design, data management, digital high-speed image recording and analysis, programming (Matlab), functional zoology, biomechanics