Metabolic power of European starlings Sturnus vulgaris during flight in a wind tunnel, estimated from heat transfer modelling, doubly labelled water and mask respirometry

S Ward, U Moller, J M V Rayner, D M Jackson, W Nachtigall, J R Speakman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is technically demanding to measure the energetic cost of animal flight. Each of the previously available techniques has some disadvantage as well advantages. We compared measurements of the energetic cost of flight in a wind tunnel by four European starlings Sturnus vulgaris made using three independent techniques: heat transfer modelling, doubly labelled water (DLW) and mask respirometry. We based our heat transfer model on thermal images of the surface temperature of the birds and air flow past the body and wings calculated from wing beat kinematics. Metabolic power was not sensitive to uncertainty in the value of efficiency when estimated from heat transfer modelling. A change in the assumed value of whole animal efficiency from 0.19 to 0.07 (the range of estimates in previous studies) only altered metabolic power predicted from heat transfer modelling by 13%. The same change in the assumed value of efficiency would cause a 2.7-fold change in metabolic power if it were predicted from mechanical power. Metabolic power did not differ significantly between measurements made using the three techniques when we assumed an efficiency in the range 0.11-0.19, although the DLW results appeared to form a U-shaped power-speed curve while the heat transfer model and respirometry results increased linearly with speed. This is the first time that techniques for determining metabolic power have been compared using data from the same birds flying under the same conditions. Our data provide reassurance that all the techniques produce similar results and suggest that heat transfer modelling may be a useful method for estimating metabolic rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4291-4298
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume207
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords

  • flight
  • heat transfer
  • thermal imaging
  • thermography
  • doubly labelled water
  • metabolic power
  • bird
  • efficiency
  • starling
  • Sturnus vulgaris
  • GEESE BRANTA-LEUCOPSIS
  • BIRD FLIGHT
  • INFRARED THERMOGRAPHY
  • THRUSH NIGHTINGALE
  • ENERGY-EXPENDITURE
  • MECHANICAL POWER
  • ANIMAL FLIGHT
  • LEVEL FLIGHT
  • TEMPERATURE
  • PIGEON

Cite this

Metabolic power of European starlings Sturnus vulgaris during flight in a wind tunnel, estimated from heat transfer modelling, doubly labelled water and mask respirometry. / Ward, S ; Moller, U ; Rayner, J M V ; Jackson, D M ; Nachtigall, W ; Speakman, J R .

In: Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 207, 2004, p. 4291-4298.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AB - It is technically demanding to measure the energetic cost of animal flight. Each of the previously available techniques has some disadvantage as well advantages. We compared measurements of the energetic cost of flight in a wind tunnel by four European starlings Sturnus vulgaris made using three independent techniques: heat transfer modelling, doubly labelled water (DLW) and mask respirometry. We based our heat transfer model on thermal images of the surface temperature of the birds and air flow past the body and wings calculated from wing beat kinematics. Metabolic power was not sensitive to uncertainty in the value of efficiency when estimated from heat transfer modelling. A change in the assumed value of whole animal efficiency from 0.19 to 0.07 (the range of estimates in previous studies) only altered metabolic power predicted from heat transfer modelling by 13%. The same change in the assumed value of efficiency would cause a 2.7-fold change in metabolic power if it were predicted from mechanical power. Metabolic power did not differ significantly between measurements made using the three techniques when we assumed an efficiency in the range 0.11-0.19, although the DLW results appeared to form a U-shaped power-speed curve while the heat transfer model and respirometry results increased linearly with speed. This is the first time that techniques for determining metabolic power have been compared using data from the same birds flying under the same conditions. Our data provide reassurance that all the techniques produce similar results and suggest that heat transfer modelling may be a useful method for estimating metabolic rate.

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