Research Topic

Visual Control of Avian Flight

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About this Research Topic

This research topic will focus on the emerging studies of how birds use visual information to guide their flight. This topic will build upon a symposium that will take place at the annual meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) in July 2016. Although there has been considerable interest in ...

This research topic will focus on the emerging studies of how birds use visual information to guide their flight. This topic will build upon a symposium that will take place at the annual meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) in July 2016. Although there has been considerable interest in long-range navigation and migration in birds, until recently, little attention has been devoted to the study of how birds avoid collisions with obstacles, regulate their flight speed, orchestrate smooth landings, fly rapidly and safely through cluttered environments, and estimate distance flown.

New research that is either building upon avian neuroscience research or extending approaches from insect studies, is now emerging. The results of these studies should not only illuminate new aspects of avian flight, but also promote the design of more bird-friendly structures (such as wind turbines) as well as inspire novel, biologically inspired designs for visual guidance of UAVs. The objective of our symposium and the new research topic in Frontiers in Neuroscience is to bring together the people currently working on short range visual guidance in birds and select additional representatives from the disciplines that are or will be most influential for this new work. The emerging field of visual guidance and control of bird flight is developing independently from several disciplines including insect visual guidance, avian visual neuroscience, and avian flight biomechanics.

This research topic will provide the opportunity to synthesize this novel research, pose new questions and forge new research directions. Also, because the different disciplines are making use of novel, but different technologies, presenting this research together will provide a common methodological resource for new investigators working in the field. The role of vision in avian flight has broad implications for diverse topics including sensory neuroscience, flight physiology, mating behavior, migration ecology, and species interactions, and the research topic will therefore also provide a key conceptual resources for placing these many areas of research in a mechanistic framework. The research topic will cover a broad range of factors that are relevant to understanding how birds guide and control their flight and locomotion– vision, sensory neurobiology, kinematics, and navigational capacity.

This symposium, entitled, “Short range visual guidance in birds” will be held at the annual meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB, www.sicb.org), which will take place in Brighton, England from 4 – 7 July 2016.

The research topic will be co-edited by Doug Altshuler (Associate Professor, University of British Columbia), Douglas R. Wylie (Professor, University of Alberta) and Mandyam Srinivasan (Professor, University of Queensland). All co-editors will be present and speaking in the symposium and providing original contributions to the research topic.


Keywords: bird, circuits, flight, guidance, vision


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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