High-elevation habitats offer ecological advantages including reduced competition, predation, and parasitism . However, flying organisms at high elevation also face physiological challenges due to lower air density and oxygen availability . These constraints are expected to affect the flight maneuvers that are required to compete with rivals, capture prey, and evade threats [3–5]. To test how individual maneuvering performance is affected by elevation, we measured the free-flight maneuvers of male Anna’s hummingbirds in a large chamber translocated to a high-elevation site and then measured their performance at low elevation. We used a multi-camera tracking system to identify thousands of maneuvers based on body position and orientation . At high elevation, the birds’ translational velocities, accelerations, and rotational velocities were reduced, and they used less demanding turns. To determine how mechanical and metabolic constraints independently affect performance, we performed a second experiment to evaluate flight maneuvers in an airtight chamber infused with either normoxic heliox, to lower air density, or nitrogen, to lower oxygen availability. The hypodense treatment caused the birds to reduce their accelerations and rotational velocities, whereas the hypoxic treatment had no significant effect on maneuvering performance. Collectively, these experiments reveal how aerial maneuvering performance changes with elevation, demonstrating that as birds move up in elevation, air density constrains their maneuverability prior to any influence of oxygen availability. Our results support the hypothesis that changes in competitive ability at high elevations are the result of mechanical limits to flight performance .
Current Biology – Elsevier
Published: Dec 19, 2016
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera