Nature's Flyers: Birds, Insects, and the Biomechanics of Flight

Nature's Flyers: Birds, Insects, and the Biomechanics of Flight


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David E. Alexander's fascination with the many animals and plants that have harnessed the air is evident in Nature's Flyers: Birds, Insects, and the Biomechanics of Flight, a detailed account of our current scientific understanding of the primary aspects of flight in nature.

Instead of relying on elaborate mathematical equations, Alexander explains the physical basis of flight with sharp prose and clear diagrams. Drawing upon bats, birds, insects, pterosaurs, and even winged seeds, he details the basic operating principles of wings and then moves progressively through more complex modes of animal flight, including gliding, flapping, and maneuvering. In addition to summarizing the latest thinking about flight's energy costs, Alexander presents a holistic view of flight and its ramifications as he explores the ecology and evolution of flying animals, addressing behaviorally important topics such as migration and navigation. With somewhat surprising answers, the author then concludes his study by examining the extent to which natural flight has been inspiring or instructive for the architects of human flight—airplane designers and engineers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801867569
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 03/08/2002
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.15(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

David E. Alexander is an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Kansas.

Table of Contents


Foreword, by Steven Vogel


ONE - Introduction

TWO - How Wings Work

THREE - Gliding and Soaring

FOUR - Flapping and Hovering

FIVE - Staying on Course and Changing Direction

SIX - Fueling Flight

SEVEN - Evolving Flyers

EIGHT - Migrating

NINE - Finding the Way

TEN - The Global Impact of Animal Flight

ELEVEN - Have the Birds and Bees Taught Us Anything Useful?





What People are Saying About This

Robert Dudley

"This book provides a useful popular-level treatment of animal flight, covering not just biomechanical but also ecological and evolutionary aspects of aerial locomotion... No comparable treatment of flight exists in the literature."

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