Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Commun. 2017 Oct 19;8(1):1047. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01223-x.

The biomechanical origin of extreme wing allometry in hummingbirds.

Author information

1
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z4.
2
Hopkins Marine Station, Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 93950, USA.
3
Department of Biology, University of Toronto, Scarborough, ON, Canada, M1C 1A4.
4
Biology Department, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, 01003, USA.
5
Department of Biology and Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, 87131, USA.
6
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA.
7
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA.
8
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 94305, USA.
9
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z4. doug@zoology.ubc.ca.

Abstract

Flying animals of different masses vary widely in body proportions, but the functional implications of this variation are often unclear. We address this ambiguity by developing an integrative allometric approach, which we apply here to hummingbirds to examine how the physical environment, wing morphology and stroke kinematics have contributed to the evolution of their highly specialised flight. Surprisingly, hummingbirds maintain constant wing velocity despite an order of magnitude variation in body weight; increased weight is supported solely through disproportionate increases in wing area. Conversely, wing velocity increases with body weight within species, compensating for lower relative wing area in larger individuals. By comparing inter- and intraspecific allometries, we find that the extreme wing area allometry of hummingbirds is likely an adaptation to maintain constant burst flight capacity and induced power requirements with increasing weight. Selection for relatively large wings simultaneously maximises aerial performance and minimises flight costs, which are essential elements of humming bird life history.

PMID:
29051535
PMCID:
PMC5715027
DOI:
10.1038/s41467-017-01223-x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center