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A comparison of mechanical and energetic estimates of flight cost for hovering sphinx moths

A comparison of mechanical and energetic estimates of flight cost for hovering sphinx moths

Journal of Experimental Biology 91: 117-129

Mechanical power output, based on measured power input, is compared with calculated values for aerodynamic and inertial power output in sphinx moths ranging 350-3400 mg. Aerodynamic power output, calculated from momentum and blade-element aerodynamic theories, scales with the 1.08 power of body mass, amounting to about 40% of the mechanical power output of large moths to about 15% in the smallest individuals. Calculated values for the inertial power cost of hovering represents a larger fraction of the mechanical power output than the aerodynamic cost in all moths, with the value increasing as body mass decreases. Independent estimates of inertial power output based on metabolic data are similar to those obtained from calculations of the moment of inertia for the wings. Inertial power output probably represents the largest power requirement for hovering sphinx moths, and elastic torques do not significantly reduce the mechanical power output. Higher mass-specific power input of small sphinx moths appears to be the result of greater mass-specific inertial power requirements. Estimates of flight cost based on morphology and flight mechanics of sphinx moths yield values for mechanical power output which are similar to values estimated from their flight metabolism.

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Accession: 000804961

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