Energy expenditure during flight in animals can best be understood and quantified when both theoretical and empirical approaches are used concurrently. This paper examines one of four methods that we have used to estimate the cost of flight in a neotropical nectar-feeding bat Glossophaga soricina (Phyllostomidae), namely the use of kinematic and morphological data and aerodynamic theory to estimate the mechanical power requirements (power output) for hovering and horizontal forward flight. A hot-wire anemometer was used to measure induced velocity (the velocity of air accelerated by the wings) during hovering in order to estimate induced power. Our estimate of aerodynamic power (the sum of induced, profile and parasite powers) required for a 0.0105 kg G. soricina to hover is 0.15 W and our estimate of the inertial power (the power required to oscillate the wings) is 0.19 W. Thus, the total mechanical power for hovering is 0.34 W or 32.4 W kg-1. The mechanical power required for horizontal forward flight, near the minimum power flight speed (4.2 ms-1) for a 0.0117 kg bat is 0.14 W (12.3 W kg-1), of which 0.10 W is aerodynamic power and 0.042 W is inertial power. Comparison with our results on metabolic power requirements estimated from nectar intake gives a mechanical efficiency of 0.15 for hovering flight and 0.11 for forward flight near the minimum power speed.

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