Measurements of joint work and power were determined using inverse dynamics analysis based on ground reaction force and high-speed video recordings of tammar wallabies as they decelerated and accelerated while hopping over a force platform on level ground. Measurements were obtained over a range of accelerations ranging from -6 m s(-2) to 8 m s(-2). The goal of our study was to determine which joints are used to modulate mechanical power when tammar wallabies change speed. From these measurements, we also sought to determine which hind limb muscle groups are the most important for producing changes in mechanical work. Because our previous in vivo analyses of wallaby distal muscle function indicated that these muscle-tendon units favor elastic energy savings and perform little work during steady level and incline hopping, we hypothesized that proximal muscle groups operating at the hip and knee joint are most important for the modulation of mechanical work and power. Of the four hind limb joints examined, the ankle joint had the greatest influence on the total limb work, accounting for 89% of the variation observed with changing speed. The hip and metatarsophalageal (MP) joints also contributed to modulating whole limb work, but to a lesser degree than the ankle, accounting for 28% (energy production) and -24% (energy absorption) of the change in whole limb work versus acceleration, respectively. In contrast, the work produced at the knee joint was independent of acceleration. Based on the results of our previous in vivo studies and given that the magnitude of power produced at the ankle exceeds that which these muscles alone could produce, we conclude that the majority of power produced at the ankle joint is likely transferred from the hip and knee joints via proximal bi-articular muscles, operating in tandem with bi-articular ankle extensors, to power changes in hopping speed of tammar wallabies. Additionally, over the observed range of performance, peak joint moments at the ankle (and resulting tendon strains) did not increase significantly with acceleration, indicating that having thin tendons favoring elastic energy storage does not necessarily limit a tammar wallaby's ability to accelerate or decelerate.
The activity of muscles can be concentric (shortening), eccentric (lengthening) or isometric (constant length). When studying muscle function it is important to know what the muscle fascicles are actually doing because the performance of muscle is strongly influenced by the type of activity: force decreases as a function of shortening velocity during concentric contractions; force produced during eccentric contractions can be stronger than maximum isometric force, and force production is enhanced if a concentric contraction follows an eccentric phase. It is well known that length changes of muscle fascicles may be different from length changes of the overall muscle-tendon unit because of the compliance of the series elasticity. Consequently, fascicles of joint extensor muscles may not undergo eccentric activity even when the joint flexes, but the extent to which this occurs may vary with the compliance of the series elasticity and may differ between species: the vastus lateralis, a knee extensor, shortens when active during trotting in dogs and lengthens in rats. Previous studies of kinematics of trotting in horses have shown that during stance, the elbow extends nearly continuously with a brief period of flexion near mid-stance and the knee exhibits two phases of flexion followed by extension. The lateral triceps (an elbow extensor) has no external tendon but the vastus lateralis has a relatively long external tendon and the fascicles insert on an aponeurosis. Thus, one might expect the relation between fascicle strain and overall length change of the muscle-tendon units to be quite different in these two muscles. In the present study in horses, fascicle length changes of the lateral triceps and vastus lateralis were measured with sonomicrometry and length changes of the muscle-tendon units were estimated from muscle architecture and joint kinematics for four horses trotting on a treadmill at nine speeds. Because the focus of this study was the relation between length changes of the muscle-tendon unit (estimated from kinematics) and length changes in the muscle fascicles, we divided the stance-phase sonomicrometry records into phases that corresponded to the alternating flexion and extension of the joint as indicated by the kinematic records. During its one eccentric phase, the triceps shortened by 0.7+/-0.4% despite a predicted lengthening of 1%. Similarly, the vastus shortened by 3.7+/-1.9% when kinematics predicted 3.2% lengthening. During their concentric phases the triceps shortened by 10.6% and the vastus shortened by 8.1%. Strain in the triceps did not change with speed but it did in the vastus. Strain rate increased with speed in both muscles as did the integrated EMG, indicating an increase in the volume of muscle recruited. Thus, despite differences in their architecture and the kinematic patterns of the associated joints, these two joint extensors exhibited similar activity.
Unlike homologous muscles in many vertebrates, which appear to function similarly during a particular mode of locomotion (e.g. red muscle in swimming fish, pectoralis muscle in flying birds, limb extensors in jumping and swimming frogs), a major knee extensor in mammalian quadrupeds, the vastus lateralis, appears to operate differently in different species studied to date. In rats, the vastus undergoes more stretching early in stance than shortening in later stance. In dogs, the reverse is true; more substantial shortening follows small amounts of initial stretching. And in horses, while the vastus strain trajectory is complex, it is characterized mainly by shortening during stance. In this study, we use sonomicrometry and electromyography to study the vastus lateralis and biceps femoris of goats, with three goals in mind: (1) to see how these muscles work in comparison to homologous muscles studied previously in other taxa; (2) to address how speed and gait impact muscle actions and (3) to test whether fascicles in different parts of the same muscle undergo similar length changes. Results indicate that the biceps femoris undergoes substantial shortening through much of stance, with higher strains in walking and trotting [32-33% resting length (L0)] than galloping (22% L0). These length changes occur with increasing biceps EMG intensities as animals increase speed from walking to galloping. The vastus undergoes a stretch-shorten cycle during stance. Stretching strains are higher during galloping (15% L0) than walking and trotting (9% L0). Shortening strains follow a reverse pattern and are greatest in walking (24% L0), intermediate in trotting (20% L0) and lowest during galloping (17% L0). As a result, the ratio of stretching to shortening increases from below 0.5 in walking and trotting to near 1.0 during galloping. This increasing ratio suggests that the vastus does relatively more positive work than energy absorption at the slower speeds compared with galloping, although an understanding of the timing and magnitude of force production is required to confirm this. Length-change regimes in proximal, middle and distal sites of the vastus are generally comparable, suggesting strain homogeneity through the muscle. When strain rates are compared across taxa, vastus shortening velocities exhibit the scaling pattern predicted by theoretical and empirical work: fascicles shorten relatively faster in smaller animals than larger animals (strain rates near 2 L s-1 have been reported for trotting dogs and were found here for goats, versus 0.6-0.8 L s-1 reported in horses). Interestingly, biceps shortening strain rates are very similar in both goats and rats during walking (1-1.5 L s-1) and trotting (1.5-2.5 L s-1, depending on speed of trot), suggesting that the ratio of in vivo shortening velocities (V) to maximum shortening velocities (Vmax) is smaller in small animals (because of their higher V(max)).
To function over a lifetime of use, materials and structures must be designed to have sufficient factors of safety to avoid failure. Vertebrates are generally built from materials having similar properties. Safety factors are most commonly calculated based on the ratio of a structure's failure stress to its peak operating stress. However, yield stress is a more likely limit, and work of fracture relative to energy absorption is likely the most relevant measure of a structure's safety factor, particularly under impact loading conditions characteristic of locomotion. Yet, it is also the most difficult to obtain. For repeated loading, fatigue damage and eventual failure may be critical to the design of biological structures and will result in lower safety factors. Although area:volume scaling predicts that stresses will increase with size, interspecific comparisons of mammals and birds show that skeletal allometry is modest, with most groups scaling (l proportional, variant d0.89) closer to geometric similarity (isometry: l proportional, variant d1.0) than to elastic similarity (l proportional, variant d0.67) or stress similarity (l proportional, variant d0.5). To maintain similar peak bone and muscle stresses, terrestrial mammals change posture when running, with larger mammals becoming more erect. More erect limbs increases their limb muscle mechanical advantage (EMA) or ratio of ground impulse to muscle impulse (r/R= integral G/integral Fm). The increase in limb EMA with body weight (proportional, variant W0.25) allows larger mammals to match changes in bone and muscle area (proportional, variant W0.72-0.80) to changes in muscle force generating requirements (proportional, variantW0.75), keeping bone and muscle stresses fairly constant across a size range 0.04-300 kg. Above this size, extremely large mammals exhibit more pronounced skeletal allometry and reduced locomotor ability. Patterns of ontogenetic scaling during skeletal growth need not follow broader interspecific scaling patterns. Instead, negative allometric growth (becoming more slender) is often observed and may relate to maturation of the skeleton's properties or the need for younger animals to move at faster speeds compared with adults. In contrast to bone and muscle stress patterns, selection for uniform safety factors in tendons does not appear to occur. In addition to providing elastic energy savings, tendons transmit force for control of motion of more distal limb segments. Their role in elastic savings requires that some tendons operate at high stresses (and strains), which compromises their safety factor. Other 'low stress' tendons have larger safety factors, indicating that their primary design is for stiffness to reduce the amount of stretch that their muscles must overcome when contracting to control movement.
As tetrapods increase in size and weight through ontogeny, the limb skeleton must grow to accommodate the increases in body weight and the resulting locomotor forces placed upon the limbs. No study to date, however, has examined how morphological changes in the limb skeleton during growth reflect ontogenetic patterns of limb loading and the resulting stresses and strains produced in the limbs. The goal of this study was to relate forelimb loads to in vivo bone strains in the radius of the domestic goat (Capra hircus) across a range of gaits and speeds through ontogeny while observing how the growth patterns of the bone relate to the mechanics of the limb. In vivo bone strains in the radius were recorded from two groups of juvenile goats (4 kg, 6 weeks and 9 kg, 15 weeks) and compared with previously reported strain data for the radius of adult goats. Ontogenetic strain patterns were examined in relation to peak forelimb ground reaction forces, ontogenetic scaling patterns of cross-sectional geometry and bone curvature, and percentage mineral ash content. Peak principal longitudinal tensile strains on the cranial surface and compressive strains on the caudal surface of the radius increased during ontogeny but maintained a uniform distribution, resulting in the radius being loaded primarily in bending through ontogeny. The increase in strain occurred despite uniform loading (relative to body weight) of the forelimb through ontogeny. Instead, the increase in bone strain resulted from strong negative growth allometry of the cross-sectional area (proportional to M(0.53)) and medio-lateral and cranio-caudal second moments of area (I(ML) proportional to M(1.03), I(CC) proportional to M(0.84)) of the radius and only a small increase (+2.8%) in mineral ash content. Even though bone strains increased with growth and age, strains in the younger goats were small enough to suggest that they maintain safety factors at least comparable with adults when moving at similar absolute speeds. Increased variability of loading in juvenile animals may also favor the more robust dimensions of the radius, and possibly other limb bones, early in growth.
We used a combination of high-speed 3-D kinematics and three-axis accelerometer recordings obtained from cockatiels flying in a low-turbulence wind tunnel to characterize the instantaneous accelerations and, by extension, the net aerodynamic forces produced throughout the wingbeat cycle across a broad range of flight speeds (1-13 m s(-1)). Our goals were to investigate the variation in instantaneous aerodynamic force production during the wingbeat cycle of birds flying across a range of steady speeds, testing two predictions regarding aerodynamic force generation in upstroke and the commonly held assumption that all of the kinetic energy imparted to the wings of a bird in flapping flight is recovered as useful aerodynamic work. We found that cockatiels produce only a limited amount of lift during upstroke (14% of downstroke lift) at slower flight speeds (1-3 m s(-1)). Upstroke lift at intermediate flight speeds (7-11 m s(-1)) was moderate, averaging 39% of downstroke lift. Instantaneous aerodynamic forces were greatest near mid-downstroke. At the end of each half-stroke, during wing turnaround, aerodynamic forces were minimal, but inertial forces created by wing motion were large. However, we found that the inertial power requirements of downstroke (minimum of 0.29+/-0.10 W at 7 m s(-1) and maximum of 0.56+/-0.13 W at 1 m s(-1)) were consistent with the assumption that nearly all wing kinetic energy in downstroke was applied to the production of aerodynamic forces and therefore should not be added separately to the overall power cost of flight. The inertial power requirements of upstroke (minimum of 0.16+/-0.04 W at 7 m s(-1) and maximum of 0.35+/-0.11 W at 1 m s(-1)) cannot be recovered in a similar manner, but their magnitude was such that the power requirements for the upstroke musculature (minimum of 54+/-13 W kg(-1) at 7 m s(-1) and maximum of 122+/-35 W at 1 m s(-1)) fall within the established range for cockatiel flight muscle (<185 W kg(-1)).
The goal of our study was to examine whether the in vivo force-length behavior, work and elastic energy savings of distal muscle-tendon units in the legs of tammar wallabies (Macropus eugenii) change during level versus incline hopping. To address this question, we obtained measurements of muscle activation (via electromyography), fascicle strain (via sonomicrometry) and muscle-tendon force (via tendon buckles) from the lateral gastrocnemius (LG) and plantaris (PL) muscles of tammar wallabies trained to hop on a level and an inclined (10 degrees, 17.4% grade) treadmill at two speeds (3.3 m s(-1) and 4.2 m s(-1)). Similar patterns of muscle activation, force and fascicle strain were observed under both level and incline conditions. This also corresponded to similar patterns of limb timing and movement (duty factor, limb contact time and hopping frequency). During both level and incline hopping, the LG and PL exhibited patterns of fascicle stretch and shortening that yielded low levels of net fascicle strain [LG: level, -1.0+/-4.6% (mean +/- S.E.M.) vs incline, 0.6+/-4.5%; PL: level, 0.1+/-1.0% vs incline, 0.4+/-1.6%] and muscle work (LG: level, -8.4+/-8.4 J kg(-1) muscle vs incline, -6.8+/-7.5 J kg(-1) muscle; PL: level, -2.0+/-0.6 J kg(-1) muscle vs incline, -1.4+/-0.7 J kg(-1) muscle). Consequently, neither muscle significantly altered its contractile dynamics to do more work during incline hopping. Whereas electromyographic (EMG) phase, duration and intensity did not differ for the LG, the PL exhibited shorter but more intense periods of activation, together with reduced EMG phase (P<0.01), during incline versus level hopping. Our results indicate that design for spring-like tendon energy savings and economical muscle force generation is key for these two distal muscle-tendon units of the tammar wallaby, and the need to accommodate changes in work associated with level versus incline locomotion is achieved by more proximal muscles of the limb.
Muscular forces generated during locomotion depend on an animal's speed, gait, and size and underlie the energy demand to power locomotion. Changes in limb posture affect muscle forces by altering the mechanical advantage of the ground reaction force (R) and therefore the effective mechanical advantage (EMA = r/R, where r is the muscle mechanical advantage) for muscle force production. We used inverse dynamics based on force plate and kinematic recordings of humans as they walked and ran at steady speeds to examine how changes in muscle EMA affect muscle force-generating requirements at these gaits. We found a 68% decrease in knee extensor EMA when humans changed gait from a walk to a run compared with an 18% increase in hip extensor EMA and a 23% increase in ankle extensor EMA. Whereas the knee joint was extended (154-176 degrees) during much of the support phase of walking, its flexed position (134-164 degrees) during running resulted in a 5.2-fold increase in quadriceps impulse (time-integrated force during stance) needed to support body weight on the ground. This increase was associated with a 4.9-fold increase in the ground reaction force moment about the knee. In contrast, extensor impulse decreased 37% (P < 0.05) at the hip and did not change at the ankle when subjects switched from a walk to a run. We conclude that the decrease in limb mechanical advantage (mean limb extensor EMA) and increase in knee extensor impulse during running likely contribute to the higher metabolic cost of transport in running than in walking. The low mechanical advantage in running humans may also explain previous observations of a greater metabolic cost of transport for running humans compared with trotting and galloping quadrupeds of similar size.
Although most frog species are specialized for jumping or swimming, Kassina maculata (red-legged running frog) primarily uses a third type of locomotion during which the hindlimbs alternate. In the present study, we examined Kassina's distinct locomotory mode to determine whether these frogs walk or run and how their gait may change with speed. We used multiple methods to distinguish between terrestrial gaits: the existence or absence of an aerial phase, duty factor, relative footfall patterns and the mechanics of the animal's center of mass (COM). To measure kinematic and kinetic variables, we recorded digital video as the animals moved over a miniature force platform (N=12 individuals). With respect to footfall patterns, the frogs used a single gait and walked at all speeds examined. Duty factor always exceeded 0.59. Based on COM mechanics, however, the frogs used both walking and running gaits. At slower speeds, the fluctuations in the horizontal kinetic energy (E(k)) and gravitational potential energy (E(p)) of the COM were largely out of phase, indicating a vaulting or walking gait. In most of the trials, Kassina used a combined gait at intermediate speeds, unlike cursorial animals with distinct gait transitions. This combined gait, much like a mammalian gallop, exhibited the mechanics of both vaulting and bouncing gaits. At faster speeds, the E(k) and E(p) of Kassina's COM were more in phase, indicating the use of a bouncing or running gait. Depending on the definition used to distinguish between walking and running, Kassina either only used a walking gait at all speeds or used a walking gait at slower speeds but then switched to a running gait as speed increased.
Direct pressure measurements using electronic differential pressure transducers along bird wings provide insight into the aerodynamics of these dynamically varying aerofoils. Acceleration-compensated pressures were measured at five sites distributed proximally to distally from the tertials to the primaries along the wings of Canada geese. During take-off flight, ventral-to-dorsal pressure is maintained at the proximal wing section throughout the wingstroke cycle, whereas pressure sense is reversed at the primaries during upstroke. The distal sites experience double pressure peaks during the downstroke. These observations suggest that tertials provide weight-support throughout the wingbeat, that the wingtip provides thrust during upstroke and that the kinetic energy of the rapidly flapping wings may be dissipated via retarding aerodynamic forces (resulting in aerodynamic work) at the end of downstroke.
The relationship between mechanical power output and forward velocity in bird flight is controversial, bearing on the comparative physiology and ecology of locomotion. Applied to flying birds, aerodynamic theory predicts that mechanical power should vary as a function of forward velocity in a U-shaped curve. The only empirical test of this theory, using the black-billed magpie (Pica pica), suggests that the mechanical power curve is relatively flat over intermediate velocities. Here, by integrating in vivo measurements of pectoralis force and length change with quasi-steady aerodynamic models developed using data on wing and body movement, we present mechanical power curves for cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) and ringed turtle-doves (Streptopelia risoria). In contrast to the curve reported for magpies, the power curve for cockatiels is acutely concave, whereas that for doves is intermediate in shape and shows higher mass-specific power output at most speeds. We also find that wing-beat frequency and mechanical power output do not necessarily share minima in flying birds. Thus, aspects of morphology, wing kinematics and overall style of flight can greatly affect the magnitude and shape of a species' power curve.
The avian pectoralis muscle must produce a varying mechanical power output to achieve flight across a range of speeds (1-13 m s(-1)). We used the natural variation in the power requirements with flight speed to investigate the mechanisms employed by cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) to modulate muscle power output. We found that pectoralis contractile function in cockatiels was generally conserved across speed and over a wide range of aerodynamic power requirements. Despite the 2-fold range of variation in muscle power output, many aspects of muscle performance varied little: duration of muscle shortening was invariant, and overall wingbeat frequency and muscle strain varied to a lesser degree (1.2-fold and 1.4-fold, respectively) than muscle power or work. Power output was primarily modulated by muscle force (accounting for 65% of the variation) rather than by muscle strain, cycle frequency or changes in the timing of force production relative to muscle strain. Strain rate and electromyogram (EMG) results suggest that the additional force was provided via increasing pectoralis recruitment. Due to their effect on the transformation of muscle work into useful aerodynamic work, changes in wing position and orientation during the downstroke probably also affect the magnitude of muscle force developed for a given level of motor recruitment. Analysis of the variation in muscle force and airflow over the wing suggests that the coefficients of lift and drag of the wing vary 4-fold over the speed range examined in this study.
For a terrestrial animal to move in the complex natural environment, the limb muscles must modulate force and work performance to meet changing mechanical requirements; however, it is not clear whether this is accomplished via a collective shift in function by all limb muscles, or a division of labor among limb muscles. Do muscles differ in their ability to modulate force-length contractile function to meet the mechanical demands of different locomotor tasks? We explore this question by examining the in vivo force-length performance of the guinea fowl Numida meleagris lateral gastrocnemius (LG) and digital flexor-IV (DF-IV), during level and incline locomotion. During level locomotion, the LG and DF-IV exhibit differing muscle fascicle strain patterns: the LG shortens by 10-15% while developing force, whereas the DF-IV undergoes a stretch-shorten cycle with large strain amplitudes and small net strains of 1-8%. Furthermore, the DF-IV operates at higher muscle stresses (92-130 kPa, compared to 23-39 kPa for LG) and possesses a longer tendon, which allows the DF-IV tendon to recover greater elastic energy than the LG tendon. During incline locomotion, these muscles contribute only one-third of the energy expected for their mass, with the DF-IV exhibiting high stride-to-stride variability in work output. While the stretch-shorten cycle of the DF-IV muscle may allow more economic force production, it also leads to large changes in work output with small changes in the relative timing of force and strain. Thus, while the primary determinants of LG work are net strain and mean force, the primary determinant of DF-IV work is the phase relationship between force and strain. Our results suggest that, in addition to influencing a muscle's mechanical performance during steady level locomotion, morphology also affects its capacity and mechanism for altering work output for different locomotor tasks.
Many studies examine sarcomere dynamics in single fibres or length-tension dynamics in whole muscles in vivo or in vitro, but few studies link the various levels of organisation. To relate data addressing in vitro muscle segment behaviour with in vivo whole muscle behaviour during locomotion, we measured in vivo strain patterns of muscle segments using three sonomicrometry crystals implanted along a fascicle of the semimembranosus muscle in the American toad (Bufo americanus; n = 6) during hopping. The centre crystal emitted an ultrasonic signal, while the outer crystals received the signal allowing the instantaneous measurement of lengths from two adjacent muscle segments. On the first day, we recorded from the central and distal segments. On the second day of recordings, the most distal crystal was moved to a proximal position to record from a proximal segment and the same central segment. When the toads hopped a distance of two body lengths, the proximal and central segments strained -15.1 +/- 6.1 and -14.0 +/- 4.9 % (i.e. shortening), respectively. Strain of the distal segment, however, was significantly lower and more variable in pattern, often lengthening before shortening during a hop. From rest length, the distal segment initially lengthened by 2.6 +/- 2.0 % before shortening by 6.5 +/- 3.2 % at the same hop distance. Under in vitro conditions, the central segment always shortened more than the distal segment, except when passively cycled, during which the segments strained similarly. When the whole muscle was cycled sinusoidally and stimulated phasically in vitro, the two adjacent segments strained in opposite directions over much (up to 34 %) of the cycle. These differences in strain amplitude and direction imply that two adjacent segments can not only produce and/or absorb varying amounts of mechanical energy, but can also operate on different regions of their force-length and force-velocity relationships when activated by the same neural signal. Understanding regional differences in contractile dynamics within muscles is therefore important to linking our understanding of sarcomere behaviour with whole muscle behaviour during locomotion.
Mammals use the elastic components in their legs (principally tendons, ligaments, and muscles) to run economically, while maintaining consistent support mechanics across various surfaces. To examine how leg stiffness and metabolic cost are affected by changes in substrate stiffness, we built experimental platforms with adjustable stiffness to fit on a force-plate-fitted treadmill. Eight male subjects [mean body mass: 74.4 +/- 7.1 (SD) kg; leg length: 0.96 +/- 0.05 m] ran at 3.7 m/s over five different surface stiffnesses (75.4, 97.5, 216.8, 454.2, and 945.7 kN/m). Metabolic, ground-reaction force, and kinematic data were collected. The 12.5-fold decrease in surface stiffness resulted in a 12% decrease in the runner's metabolic rate and a 29% increase in their leg stiffness. The runner's support mechanics remained essentially unchanged. These results indicate that surface stiffness affects running economy without affecting running support mechanics. We postulate that an increased energy rebound from the compliant surfaces studied contributes to the enhanced running economy.
Birds and bats are known to employ two different gaits in flapping flight, a vortex-ring gait in slow flight and a continuous-vortex gait in fast flight. We studied the use of these gaits over a wide range of speeds (1-17 ms(-1)) and transitions between gaits in cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) and ringed turtle-doves (Streptopelia risoria) trained to fly in a recently built, variable-speed wind tunnel. Gait use was investigated via a combination of three-dimensional kinematics and quasi-steady aerodynamic modeling of bound circulation on the distal and proximal portions of the wing. Estimates of lift from our circulation model were sufficient to support body weight at all but the slowest speeds (1 and 3 ms(-1)). From comparisons of aerodynamic impulse derived from our circulation analysis with the impulse estimated from whole-body acceleration, it appeared that our quasi-steady aerodynamic analysis was most accurate at intermediate speeds (5-11 ms(-1)). Despite differences in wing shape and wing loading, both species shifted from a vortex-ring to a continuous-vortex gait at 7 ms(-1). We found that the shift from a vortex-ring to a continuous-vortex gait (i) was associated with a phase delay in the peak angle of attack of the proximal wing section from downstroke into upstroke and (ii) depended on sufficient forward velocity to provide airflow over the wing during the upstroke similar to that during the downstroke. Our kinematic estimates indicated significant variation in the magnitude of circulation over the course the wingbeat cycle when either species used a continuous-vortex gait. This variation was great enough to suggest that both species shifted to a ladder-wake gait as they approached the maximum flight speed (cockatiels 15 ms(-1), doves 17 ms(-1)) that they would sustain in the wind tunnel. This shift in flight gait appeared to reflect the need to minimize drag and produce forward thrust in order to fly at high speed. The ladder-wake gait was also employed in forward and vertical acceleration at medium and fast flight speeds.
Sonomicrometry and electromyography were used to determine how surface grade influences strain and activation patterns in the biceps femoris and vastus lateralis of the rat. Muscle activity is generally present during much of stance and is most intense on an incline, intermediate on the level, and lowest on a decline, where the biceps remains inactive except at high speeds. Biceps fascicles shorten during stance, with strains ranging from 0.07-0.30 depending on individual, gait, and grade. Shortening strains vary significantly among grades (P = 0.05) and average 0.21, 0.16, and 0.14 for incline, level, and decline walking, respectively; similar trends are present during trotting and galloping. Vastus fascicles are stretched while active over the first half of stance on all grades, and then typically shorten over the second half of stance. Late-stance shortening is highest during galloping, averaging 0.14, 0.10, and 0.02 in the leading limb on incline, level, and decline surfaces, respectively. Our results suggest that modulation of strain and activation in these proximal limb muscles is important for accommodating different surface grades.
New techniques and conceptual frameworks offer new challenges and exciting opportunities for research on the biomechanics and physiology of vertebrate musculoskeletal design and locomotor performance. Past research based on electromyography and two-dimensional kinematics has greatly advanced the field of vertebrate functional morphology. Studies using these approaches have revealed much about vertebrate structure and function and have emphasized the importance of incorporating historical and developmental constraint and ecological context. Continued use of these experimental tools, but with greater emphasis on three-dimensional analysis of body movement, in combination with 3D kinetics and flow visualization of fluid movement past moving organisms, can now take advantage of the considerable advances in computing power and digital video technology. Indeed, surprisingly few detailed 3D analyses of movement for many locomotor modes and differing organisms are presently available. A challenge of 3D analyses will be to reduce the complexity of the data obtained in order to identify general principles of movement and biomechanics. New techniques and approaches for measuring muscle forces and length changes, together with activation patterns and movement, under dynamic conditions of more varied motor behavior are now also available. These provide the opportunity to study the mechanics and physiology of muscle function at greater depth and under more realistic conditions than has been previously possible. The importance of studying intact, behaving organisms under a broader range of locomotor conditions (other than steady state) and in the context of their natural environment remains a critical need for vertebrate biologists. This provides the much-needed opportunity for placing advances at more cellular and molecular levels into the context of whole organism function. Hence, studies at the organismal level remain paramount.
In vivo measurements of pectoralis muscle length change and force production were obtained using sonomicrometry and delto-pectoral bone strain recordings during ascending and slow level flight in mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). These measurements provide a description of the force/length properties of the pectoralis under dynamic conditions during two discrete flight behaviors and allow an examination of the effects of differences in body size and morphology on pectoralis performance by comparing the results with those of a recent similar study of slow level flight in pigeons (Columbia livia). In the present study, the mallard pectoralis showed a distinct pattern of active lengthening during the upstroke. This probably enhances the rate of force generation and the magnitude of the force generated and, thus, the amount of work and power produced during the downstroke. The power output of the pectoralis averaged 17.0 W kg(-)(1 )body mass (131 W kg(-)(1 )muscle mass) during slow level flight (3 m s(-)(1)) and 23.3 W kg(-)(1 )body mass (174 W kg(-)(1 )muscle mass) during ascending flight. This increase in power was achieved principally via an increase in muscle strain (29 % versus 36 %), rather than an increase in peak force (107 N versus 113 N) or cycle frequency (8.4 Hz versus 8.9 Hz). Body-mass-specific power output of mallards during slow level flight (17.0 W kg(-)(1)), measured in terms of pectoralis mechanical power, was similar to that measured recently in pigeons (16.1 W kg(-)(1)). Mallards compensate for their greater body mass and proportionately smaller wing area and pectoralis muscle volume by operating with a high myofibrillar stress to elevate mechanical power output.