Geckos decouple fore- and hind limb kinematics in response to changes in incline.
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BACKGROUND: Terrestrial animals regularly move up and down surfaces in their natural habitat, and the impacts of moving uphill on locomotion are commonly examined. However, if an animal goes up, it must go down. Many morphological features enhance locomotion on inclined surfaces, including adhesive systems among geckos. Despite this, it is not known whether the employment of the adhesive system results in altered locomotor kinematics due to the stereotyped motions that are necessary to engage and disengage the system. Using a generalist pad-bearing gecko, Chondrodactylus bibronii, we determined whether changes in slope impact body and limb kinematics. RESULTS: Despite the change in demand, geckos did not change speed on any incline. This constant speed was achieved by adjusting stride frequency, step length and swing time. Hind limb, but not forelimb, kinematics were altered on steep downhill conditions, thus resulting in significant de-coupling of the limbs. CONCLUSIONS: Unlike other animals on non-level conditions, the geckos in our study only minimally alter the movements of distal limb elements, which is likely due to the constraints associated with the need for rapid attachment and detachment of the adhesive system. This suggests that geckos may experience a trade-off between successful adhesion and the ability to respond dynamically to locomotor perturbations.
AuthorsBirn-Jeffery, AV; Higham, TE
- College Publications