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Re: surface/volume ratio and water loss in smallest amniotes

On Feb 10, 2010, at 5:29 PM, David Peters wrote:

It seems like rain and windy conditions makes all small flyers seek cover though. Maybe large ones too. I rarely get mosquito bites in a strong breeze. You?

Wind and rain are obviously relatively more severe for small flyer than large ones - and many do seek shelter. However, some do not, and insects have known mechanisms for compensation in windy conditions (up to a point). Weather conditions aren't unimportant, but if the smallest vertebrate flyers were at a flight limit, then flying insects shouldn't be any smaller, and of course most of them are. In fact, the smallest flying insects are so small that the appear to fly by drag-based propulsion instead of lift based - they paddle through the air because it is so viscous to them.

Interesting factoid: I found that bee hummingbirds drink 8x their body weight in water every day, so there's one solution. And evidently there IS a problem with the surface/volume ratio and the threat of desiccation.

I would think that it matters, sure. But like you said, there may be solutions - drink huge amounts of water, live in humid areas, have more water-tight coverings, etc.


--Mike H.