Issue compiled and edited by Steven J. Portugal and Emily L.C. Shepard
Airflows change from one moment to the next, with the vagaries of the weather, and with shifting climatic regimes. Airflows also vary spatially, due to the interaction of the air with the substrate. This presents a range of challenges to flying organisms (and now also to drones), which must negotiate a safe path through their shifting, 3-dimensional environment, but also, ideally, capitalize on this variability to minimize flight costs. Yet much of how animals respond to gustiness, turbulence, and even wind strength, remains unknown. This is due, in part, to the difficulties of studying movement in a medium that is both invisible and highly dynamic. Nonetheless, understanding animal responses to airflows is a priority as humans continue to populate the aerial environment with objects from buildings to turbines, which alter the airflow around them and in some cases pose serious threats to flying animals.
This theme issue assembles papers that represent the state of the art in our knowledge of the biomechanical, physiological and behavioural responses of animals to air flows, and thereby provide real momentum in our understanding of how they can be so successful in this most fickle of environments.
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