Does posture explain the kinematic differences in a grounded running gait between male and female Svalbard rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta hyperborea) moving on snow?
The majority of locomotor research is conducted on treadmills and few studies attempt to understand the differences between this and animals moving in the wild. For example, animals may adjust their gait kinematics or limb posture, to a more compliant limb, to increase stability of locomotion to prevent limb failure or falling on different substrates. Here, using video recordings, we compared locomotor parameters (speed range, stride length, stride frequency, stance duration, swing duration and duty factor) of female Svalbard rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta hyperborea) moving in the wild over snow to previous treadmill-based research. We also compared the absolute and body size (body mass and limb length)-corrected values of kinematic parameters to published data from males to look for any sex differences across walking and grounded running gaits. Our findings indicate that the kinematics of locomotion are largely conserved between the field and laboratory in that none of the female gaits were drastically affected by moving over snow, except for a prolonged swing phase at very slow walking speeds, likely due to toe dragging. Comparisons between the sexes indicate that the differences observed during a walking gait are likely due to body size. However, sexual dimorphism in body size could not explain the disparate grounded running kinematics of the female and male ptarmigan, which might be linked to a more crouched posture in females. Our findings provide insight into how males and females moving in situ may use different strategies to alleviate the effects of a variable substrate.
CitationMarmol-Guijarro AC, Nudds R, Folkow P., Lees J, Codd J. Does posture explain the kinematic differences in a grounded running gait between male and female Svalbard rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta hyperborea) moving on snow?. Polar Biology. 2021;44:1141-1152
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