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      Interpretation of body-mounted accelerometry in flying animals and estimation of biomechanical power

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          Abstract

          An idealized energy fluctuation model of a bird's body undergoing horizontal flapping flight is developed, focusing on the biomechanical power discernible to a body-mounted accelerometer. Expressions for flight body power constructed from root mean square dynamic body accelerations and wingstroke frequency are derived from first principles and presented in dimensionally appropriate units. As wingstroke frequency increases, the model generally predicts a gradual transition in power from a linear to an asymptotically cubic relationship. However, the onset of this transition and the degree to which this occurs depends upon whether and how forward vibrations are exploited for temporary energy storage and retrieval. While this may vary considerably between species and individual birds, it is found that a quadrature phase arrangement is generally advantageous during level flight. Gravity-aligned vertical acceleration always enters into the calculation of body power, but, whenever forward acceleration becomes relevant, its contribution is subtractive. Several novel kinematic measures descriptive of flapping flight are postulated, offering fresh insights into the processes involved in airborne locomotion. The limitations of the model are briefly discussed, and departures from its predictions during ascending and descending flight evaluated. These findings highlight how body-mounted accelerometers can offer a valuable, insightful and non-invasive technique for investigating the flight of free-ranging birds and bats.

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          Moving towards acceleration for estimates of activity-specific metabolic rate in free-living animals: the case of the cormorant.

          1. Time and energy are key currencies in animal ecology, and judicious management of these is a primary focus for natural selection. At present, however, there are only two main methods for estimation of rate of energy expenditure in the field, heart rate and doubly labelled water, both of which have been used with success; but both also have their limitations. 2. The deployment of data loggers that measure acceleration is emerging as a powerful tool for quantifying the behaviour of free-living animals. Given that animal movement requires the use of energy, the accelerometry technique potentially has application in the quantification of rate of energy expenditure during activity. 3. In the present study, we test the hypothesis that acceleration can serve as a proxy for rate of energy expenditure in free-living animals. We measured rate of energy expenditure as rates of O2 consumption (VO2) and CO2 production (VCO2) in great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) at rest and during pedestrian exercise. VO2 and VCO2 were then related to overall dynamic body acceleration (ODBA) measured with an externally attached three-axis accelerometer. 4. Both VO2 and VCO2 were significantly positively associated with ODBA in great cormorants. This suggests that accelerometric measurements of ODBA can be used to estimate VO2 and VCO2 and, with some additional assumptions regarding metabolic substrate use and the energy equivalence of O2 and CO2, that ODBA can be used to estimate the activity specific rate of energy expenditure of free-living cormorants. 5. To verify that the approach identifies expected trends in from situations with variable power requirements, we measured ODBA in free-living imperial cormorants (Phalacrocorax atriceps) during foraging trips. We compared ODBA during return and outward foraging flights, when birds are expected to be laden and not laden with captured fish, respectively. We also examined changes in ODBA during the descent phase of diving, when power requirements are predicted to decrease with depth due to changes in buoyancy associated with compression of plumage and respiratory air. 6. In free-living imperial cormorants, ODBA, and hence estimated VO2, was higher during the return flight of a foraging bout, and decreased with depth during the descent phase of a dive, supporting the use of accelerometry for the determination of activity-specific rate of energy expenditure.
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            Using tri-axial acceleration data to identify behavioral modes of free-ranging animals: general concepts and tools illustrated for griffon vultures.

            Integrating biomechanics, behavior and ecology requires a mechanistic understanding of the processes producing the movement of animals. This calls for contemporaneous biomechanical, behavioral and environmental data along movement pathways. A recently formulated unifying movement ecology paradigm facilitates the integration of existing biomechanics, optimality, cognitive and random paradigms for studying movement. We focus on the use of tri-axial acceleration (ACC) data to identify behavioral modes of GPS-tracked free-ranging wild animals and demonstrate its application to study the movements of griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus, Hablizl 1783). In particular, we explore a selection of nonlinear and decision tree methods that include support vector machines, classification and regression trees, random forest methods and artificial neural networks and compare them with linear discriminant analysis (LDA) as a baseline for classifying behavioral modes. Using a dataset of 1035 ground-truthed ACC segments, we found that all methods can accurately classify behavior (80-90%) and, as expected, all nonlinear methods outperformed LDA. We also illustrate how ACC-identified behavioral modes provide the means to examine how vulture flight is affected by environmental factors, hence facilitating the integration of behavioral, biomechanical and ecological data. Our analysis of just over three-quarters of a million GPS and ACC measurements obtained from 43 free-ranging vultures across 9783 vulture-days suggests that their annual breeding schedule might be selected primarily in response to seasonal conditions favoring rising-air columns (thermals) and that rare long-range forays of up to 1750 km from the home range are performed despite potentially heavy energetic costs and a low rate of food intake, presumably to explore new breeding, social and long-term resource location opportunities.
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              Tri-Axial Dynamic Acceleration as a Proxy for Animal Energy Expenditure; Should We Be Summing Values or Calculating the Vector?

              Dynamic body acceleration (DBA) has been used as a proxy for energy expenditure in logger-equipped animals, with researchers summing the acceleration (overall dynamic body acceleration - ODBA) from the three orthogonal axes of devices. The vector of the dynamic body acceleration (VeDBA) may be a better proxy so this study compared ODBA and VeDBA as proxies for rate of oxygen consumption using humans and 6 other species. Twenty-one humans on a treadmill ran at different speeds while equipped with two loggers, one in a straight orientation and the other skewed, while rate of oxygen consumption ( ) was recorded. Similar data were obtained from animals but using only one (straight) logger. In humans, both ODBA and VeDBA were good proxies for with all r2 values exceeding 0.88, although ODBA accounted for slightly but significantly more of the variation in than did VeDBA (P<0.03). There were no significant differences between ODBA and VeDBA in terms of the change in estimated by the acceleration data in a simulated situation of the logger being mounted straight but then becoming skewed (P = 0.744). In the animal study, ODBA and VeDBA were again good proxies for with all r2 values exceeding 0.70 although, again, ODBA accounted for slightly, but significantly, more of the variation in than did VeDBA (P<0.03). The simultaneous contraction of muscles, inserted variously for limb stability, may produce muscle oxygen use that at least partially equates with summing components to derive DBA. Thus, a vectorial summation to derive DBA cannot be assumed to be the more ‘correct’ calculation. However, although within the limitations of our simple study, ODBA appears a marginally better proxy for . In the unusual situation where researchers are unable to guarantee at least reasonably consistent device orientation, they should use VeDBA as a proxy for .
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J R Soc Interface
                J R Soc Interface
                RSIF
                royinterface
                Journal of the Royal Society Interface
                The Royal Society
                1742-5689
                1742-5662
                6 October 2013
                6 October 2013
                : 10
                : 87
                Affiliations
                School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University , Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK
                Author notes
                Article
                rsif20130404
                10.1098/rsif.2013.0404
                3758002
                23883951

                © 2013 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

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