A Field Study of the Effects of Incline on the Escape Locomotion of a Bipedal Lizard, Callisaurus draconoides

Duncan J. Irschick, Bruce C. Jayne
1999 Physiological and Biochemical Zoology  
We analyzed footprints on the surface of a sand dune to estimate maximal running speeds and the incidence of bipedality in nature, as well as to investigate the effects of incline on the escape locomotion of the lizard Callisaurus draconoides. Previous laboratory tests predicted that inclines would negatively affect sprinting performance in C. draconoides. Although physiologists commonly assume that escape locomotion will be near maximal capacity, we found that only 11% of all strides were
more » ... l strides were greater than 90% of maximal speed of C. draconoides. Escape paths averaged 10 m in length and were generally straight. Approximately 30% of the strides taken by C. draconoides were bipedal, and this value was three times greater than previously found for the closely related species Uma scoparia. The modal value of bipedal stride lengths was greater than that for quadrupedal strides. Inclines negatively affected velocity of only the first meter of C. draconoides escape paths. The location of nearest cover had better predictive value for the initial orientation of C. draconoides escapes than incline. On steep slopes (115Њ), C. draconoides avoided running directly downhill and uphill and primarily ran horizontally, whereas on shallow slopes, lizards exhibited approximately equal amounts of horizontal, direct uphill, and direct downhill running.
doi:10.1086/316641 pmid:9882602 fatcat:c3mogwgnrnfu5jzqyui6pfuwcm