Aerodynamics of manoeuvring flight in brown long-eared bats (Plecotus auritus)

Per Henningsson, Lasse Jakobsen, Anders Hedenström

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In this study, we explicitly examine the aerodynamics of manoeuvring flight in animals. We studied brown long-eared bats flying in a wind tunnel while performing basic sideways manoeuvres. We used particle image velocimetry in combination with high-speed filming to link aerodynamics and kinematics to understand the mechanistic basis of manoeuvres. We predicted that the bats would primarily use the downstroke to generate the asymmetries for the manoeuvre since it has been shown previously that the majority of forces are generated during this phase of the wingbeat. We found instead that the bats more often used the upstroke than they used the downstroke for this. We also found that the bats used both drag/thrust-based and lift-based asymmetries to perform the manoeuvre and that they even frequently switch between these within the course of a manoeuvre. We conclude that the bats used three main modes: lift asymmetries during downstroke, thrust/drag asymmetries during downstroke and thrust/drag asymmetries during upstroke. For future studies, we hypothesize that lift asymmetries are used for fast turns and thrust/drag for slow turns and that the choice between up- and downstroke depends on the timing of when the bat needs to generate asymmetries.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Royal Society, Interface
Issue number148
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • aerodynamics
  • bats
  • kinematics
  • manoeuvring flight
  • particle image velocimetry


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