We try to understand the behaviours we see the animals do in flight. How do they fly in the most efficient way? How do they use their ability to fly in order to get the most out of it at the same time as they conserve energy?
In our wind tunnel we let the animals fly under closely monitored and controlled conditions. The wind tunnel is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments allowing us to study both aerodynamics and kinematics (the study of body movements).
One of our central techniques is flow visualisation. This technique helps us to capture the movement of the air behind the flying. High-speed cameras allow us to film the movements of the wings, tail and body of the animal simultaneously as we make our aerodynamic measurements. In addition to these techniques, we can also make direct force measurements using an aerodynamic balance.
Our research findings on flight mechanics and aerodynamics are potentially useful in the context of technological development.
The research group Animal Flight Lab study animal flight in a sophisticated wind tunnel. Birds, bats and insects are some of the animals we study there. Our research is primary focused on the ecology and evolution of animal flight.