An examination of the kinematics and behavior of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) during water landings

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Virginia Tech


This dissertation aims to address how a change in landing substrate may change landing kinematics. To examine this possibility, mallards (Anas playtrhynchos) were used as a study species and 177 water landings were recorded through the use of two camera systems with photogrammetric capabilities. This enabled the landing trajectory and landing transition kinematics to be tracked in three dimensions. From the resulting position data three questions were pursued. Do mallards regulate landing kinematics through a ̇-constant strategy? With what kinematics do mallards land on water? Do landing kinematics respond to external factors, such as an obstacle to landing? Chapter 2 assesses the presence of a ̇-constant regulatory strategy and compares the implementation to other landing behaviors. Chapter 3 examines the variation observed in the landing kinematics of mallards, identifies the primary kinematic drivers of that variation, and detects differences in kinematic profile. Chapter 4 inspects the landing kinematics combined with the positions of all other waterfowl in the vicinity to test for the presence of obstacle avoidance behavior.



Mallards, kinematics, flight, landing, Tau Theory, obstacle avoidance