the school I did my PhD at did not publish my dissertation for some unknown reason – they are usually pretty good at self-archiving these things. This might have been out of copyright reasons(?). However, I found out that all publishers allow me to self-archive the articles. Thus, I have no problem putting the whole dissertation online (yay!):
Optic Flow in Behavior and Brain Function of the Zebra Finch
Just recently the last article from my PhD thesis was published by Frontiers in Integrative Neurophysiology! I want to explain to you over the next few posts what my thesis was all about – several posts because I don’t like long posts :P. So, today I start with this brief introduction:
My collaborators and I want to know how small animals can see things during fast flight. Well, it is actually not only about just seeing things. Small animals, especially fast moving ones must be able to quickly realize where all the things around them are and which of those they might collide with if they don’t maneuver around them in time. Imagine you are a little zebra finch, just 12 grams body weight, and you are sitting at the water pond home in Australia minding your own business, taking a sip, washing the dust off your feathers or hopping around looking for grains to eat. And then all of the sudden a warning call! One of your peers has seen a bird of prey approaching! What follows is total chaos – well at least from the perspective of an outsider – everybody, maybe hundreds of fellow zebra finches, rush from the water pond into the bushes and tree tops near by. Flying buddies everywhere, leafs, twigs, branches and you have to be quick! And this is not a made up story, just watch this video!
The question is
Why do zebra finches not crash into each other and into branches?
Continue reading Depth perception in small, flying animals – Introduction