Aerodynamic stability and maneuverability of the gliding frog Polypedates dennysi

J Exp Biol. 2001 Aug;204(Pt 16):2817-26.


Gliding has evolved independently in two families of tree frog. Tree frogs glide to descend rapidly to mating sites over temporary pools on the forest floor or to escape predators. The physical mechanisms used by frogs to glide and maneuver were investigated using a combination of observations of live frogs (Polypedates dennysi) gliding in a tilted wind-tunnel and aerodynamic forces and torques measured from physical models of tree frogs in a wind-tunnel. Tree frogs maneuvered in the tilted wind-tunnel using two different turning mechanisms: a banked turn (the frog rolls into the turn) and a crabbed turn (the frog yaws into the turn). Polypedates dennysi possessed overall weak aerodynamic stability: slightly stable about the pitch and roll axis, slightly unstable about the yaw axis. The maneuverability of gliding tree frogs was quantified using a maneuverability index. The maneuverability of tree frogs was roughly equivalent for tree frogs performing a banked turn and performing a crabbed turn. The maneuverability of tree frogs was approximately one-third of the maneuverability of a falcon (Falcon jugger).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anura / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Wind