Work and power output in the hindlimb muscles of Cuban tree frogs Osteopilus septentrionalis during jumping
Journal of Experimental Biology
It has been suggested that small frogs use a catapult mechanism to amplify muscle power production during the takeoff phase of jumping. This conclusion was based on an apparent discrepancy between the power available from the hindlimb muscles and that required during takeoff. The present study provides integrated data on muscle contractile properties, morphology and jumping performance that support this conclusion. We show here that the predicted power output during takeoff in Cuban tree frogs
... n Cuban tree frogs Osteopilus septentrionalis exceeds that available from the muscles by at least sevenfold. We consider the sartorius muscle as representative of the bulk of the hindlimb muscles of these animals, because this muscle has properties typical of other hindlimb muscles of small frogs. At 25 degrees C, this muscle has a maximum shortening velocity (Vmax) of 8.77 +/- 0.62 L0 s-1 (where L0 is the muscle length yielding maximum isometric force), a maximum isometric force (P0) of 24.1 +/- 2.3 N cm-2 and a maximum isotonic power output of 230 +/- 9.2 W kg-1 of muscle (mean +/- S.E.M.). In contrast, the power required to accelerate the animal in the longest jumps measured (approximately 1.4 m) is more than 800 W kg-1 of total hindlimb muscle. The peak instantaneous power is expected to be twice this value. These estimates are probably conservative because the muscles that probably power jumping make up only 85% of the total hindlimb muscle mass. The total mechanical work required of the muscles is high (up to 60 J kg-1), but is within the work capacities predicted for vertebrate skeletal muscle. Clearly, a substantial portion of this work must be performed and stored prior to takeoff to account for the high power output during jumping. Interestingly, muscle work output during jumping is temperature-dependent, with greater work being produced at higher temperatures. The thermal dependence of work does not follow from simple muscle properties and instead must reflect the interaction between these properties and the other components of the skeletomuscular system during the propulsive phase of the jump.