Data from: Fine-scale flight strategies of gulls in urban airflows indicate risk and reward in city living



Birds modulate their flight paths in relation to regional and global airflows in order to reduce their travel costs. Birds should also respond to fine-scale airflows, although the incidence and value of this remains largely unknown. We resolved the three-dimensional trajectories of gulls flying along a built-up coastline, and used computational fluid dynamic models to examine how gulls reacted to airflows around buildings. Birds systematically altered their flight trajectories with wind conditions to exploit updraughts over features as small as a row of low-rise buildings. This provides the first evidence that human activities can change patterns of space-use in flying birds by altering the profitability of the airscape. At finer scales still, gulls varied their position to select a narrow range of updraught values, rather than exploiting the strongest updraughts available, and their precise positions were consistent with a strategy to increase their velocity control in gusty conditions. Ultimately, strategies such as these could help unmanned aerial vehicles negotiate complex airflows. Overall, airflows around fine-scale features have profound implications for flight control and energy use, and consideration of this could lead to a paradigm-shift in the way ecologists view the urban environment.,Ornithodolite dataThis file contains the Ornithodolite data from gulls soaring over two sites that border Swansea Bay.Flight paths for CFD modellingThis workbook contains two worksheets that detail (i) wind data (collected from balloon ascents) and (ii) summary data from birds gliding over hotels that border Swansea Bay. These data were used to estimate the wind fields around these flight paths, when combined with CFD model outputs. This file is also described in the README file for the Ornithodolite data.WindDataThe excel file "WindData" includes the 2D (averaged wind vector components) along the Y,Z axis. Data are available for each session where the positions of gulls soaring over the seafront hotels were recorded.Glide_polarThis contains the MATLAB code to estimate the glide polar for a fixed wing gull.,
Date made available25 Jul 2017

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