SICB 2016: Morphology and Movement of Puerto Rican Ecomorphs

Kathleen Foster, a Ph.D. student in Tim Higham’s biomechanics lab at the University of California, Riverside, gave an interesting talk on how different anole ecomorphs use their limbs. We characterize Anolis species by the portion of the habitat they use (e.g. twig/bush, trunk-ground). Species of the different ecomorphs often show stark differences in external morphology and behavior, which have evolved to match the microhabitat they use. Foster hypothesized that those differences in morphologies may lead to differences in locomotor kinematics.

Foster used high-speed video cameras to record lizards running on surfaces of different diameter and inclination, and digitized forelimb and hind limb joints in all the trials. She compared the limb movements of six Puerto Rican Anolis species, using two species from each of the grass-bush, trunk-ground, and trunk-crown ecomorphs. Using multivariate analyses, she found three major results:  All ecomorphs used a similar strategy of modulating their hind limbs differently than their forelimbs when moving on the different inclines. Interestingly, when comparing ecomorphs, Foster showed that grass-bush species used both their forelimbs and their hindlimbs differently than the other ecomorphs. Furthermore, the two species within the grass-bush ecomorph use their forelimbs differently than each other.

Check out some of Kathleen’s other projects on her website.

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