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Muscle efficiency and elastic storage in the flight motor of Drosophila

Dickinson, Michael H. and Lighton, John R. B. (1995) Muscle efficiency and elastic storage in the flight motor of Drosophila. Science, 268 (5207). pp. 87-90. ISSN 0036-8075. doi:10.1126/science.7701346.

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Insects could minimize the high energetic costs of flight in two ways: by employing high-efficiency muscles and by using elastic elements within the thorax to recover energy expended accelerating the wings. However, because muscle efficiency and elastic storage have proven difficult variables to measure, it is not known which of these strategies is actually used. By comparison of mechanical power measurements based on gas exchange with simultaneously measured flight kinematics in Drosophila, a method was developed for determining both the mechanical efficiency and the minimum degree of elastic storage within the flight motor. Muscle efficiency values of 10 percent suggest that insects may minimize energy use in flight by employing an elastic flight motor rather than by using extraordinarily efficient muscles. Further, because of the trade-off between inertial and aerodynamic power throughout the wing stroke, an elastic storage capacity as low as 10 percent may be enough to minimize the energetic costs of flight.

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Dickinson, Michael H.0000-0002-8587-9936
Additional Information:© 1997 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received 9 August 1994; accepted 13 January 1995. We thank M. Feder for technical assistance and M. Labarbera for his critical comments on the manuscript. Supported by grants and fellowships from NSF and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to both authors.
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David and Lucile Packard FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:5207
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20181116-075710477
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Official Citation:Muscle efficiency and elastic storage in the flight motor of Drosophila. BY MH DICKINSON, LIGHTON JR. SCIENCE 07 APR 1995: 87-90.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:90942
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:16 Nov 2018 19:47
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 03:37

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