Performance and navigation of nocturnal gliders

Gliding is a performance trait that has evolved multiple times independently among animals, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates and insects. Among mammals, gliding has evolved independently in placentals and marsupials, and is associated with nocturnal lifestyle. The biomechanics of this convergence of performance has been examined, but not under ecologically relevant conditions. In collaboration with Harald Beck, and a team of undergraduate researchers, we are beginning to explore how these nocturnal, gliding mammals navigate and perform under varying light conditions. Using new high-speed cameras that can record with infrared light in near darkness (<1 lux) we are currently:

  1. Examining variation in take-off performance/kinematics
  2. Assessing behavioral preferences for varying light wavelength