Our group works on the biomechanics, energetics, and evolution of animal flight. Flight performance is investigated in the laboratory using high-speed three-dimensional videography, metabolic measurements, particle-image velocimetry, and physically-variable gas mixtures. Two current goals are to describe hummingbird kinematic and metabolic responses to variable levels of air turbulence within a wind tunnel, and to evaluate the functional correlates of wing reduction among a diversity of stick insect species. Laboratory studies of flight biomechanics are complemented by fieldwork around the planet, including the ecophysiology of butterfly migrations in Panama, gliding in Southeast Asian flying lizards, hummingbird flight metabolism across elevational gradients in Peru, high-altitude adaptations in Sichuan bumblebees, and controlled aerial behavior in wingless hexapods of the Neotropical forest canopy. Research students are encouraged to ask idiosyncratic biomechanical and ecophysiological questions to which a diversity of technological and phylogenetic approaches available in the lab may be applied.
Yanoviak, S.P., Munk, Y., Kaspari, M.A. and Dudley, R. 2010. Aerial manoeuvrability in wingless gliding ants (Cephalotes atratus). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 277:2199-2204.
Clark, C.J. and R. Dudley. 2009. Flight costs of long, sexually selected tails in hummingbirds. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 276:2109-2115.
Combes, S.A. and R. Dudley. 2009. Turbulence-driven instabilities limit insect flight performance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106:9105-9108.
Yanoviak, S.P., Kaspari, M. and R. Dudley. 2009. Gliding hexapods and the origins of insect aerial behaviour. Biology Letters 5:510-512.
Dudley, R. and R.B. Srygley. 2008. Airspeed adjustment and lipid reserves in migratory Neotropical butterflies. Functional Ecology 22:264-270.
Kaspari, M., Yanoviak, S.P. and R. Dudley. 2008. On the biogeography of salt limitation: a study of ant communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105:17848-17851.
Srygley, R.B. and R. Dudley. 2008. Optimal strategies for insects migrating in the flight boundary layer: mechanisms and consequences. Integrative and Comparative Biology 48:119-133.
Dudley, R., Byrnes, G., Yanoviak, S.P., Borrell, B.J., Brown, R., and J.A. McGuire. 2007. Gliding and the functional origins of flight: biomechanical novelty or necessity? Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 38:179-201.
Dillon, M., Frazier, M.R. and R. Dudley. 2006. Into thin air: physiology and evolution of alpine insects. Integrative and Comparative Biology 46:49-61.
Dudley, R. 2002. Fermenting fruit and the historical ecology of ethanol ingestion: is alcoholism in modern humans an evolutionary hangover? Addiction 97:381-388.
Dudley, R. 2000. The Biomechanics of Insect Flight: Form, Function, Evolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 476 pp.