Anna's hummingbird
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Ph.D Student, Chris Clark
chris clark

Research interests

    I study hummingbird tails. I measured the morphology of approximately 330 species of hummingbird in museums, to examine patterns of hummingbird tail evolution in a phylogenetic context. Hummingbirds evolve elongated tails a number of times, and theory predicts that long tails increase drag. I've flown Anna's Hummingbirds (Calypte anna) in a wind tunnel and experimentally manipulated their tail length (using the long tails from the Jamaican Streamertail, Trochilus polytmus), to test whether a long tail increases the amount of energy necessary to fly, and also whether the top speed they can fly is reduced with a long tail.  I have also tested to see whether a long tail affects the ability of the Jamaican Streamertail to maneuver.

    Finally, male Anna's Hummingbird perform a spectacular display dive to females, in which they rise 30 to 50 m in the air, then dive headfirst towards the female, before pulling up at the bottom of the dive.  At the bottom of the dive he emits a "dive-noise". Previous researchers thought that the dive-noise was vocal, but I have evidence suggesting that the noise is made with their tails!

Complete CV


R. Dudley  R. Buchwald  S. Combes    S. Horisawa    G. Byrnes    C. Clark    M.J.Fernández    R. Hill    M. Medeiros