Meeting Abstract

2.1  Wednesday, Jan. 4  The role of practice (or lack thereof) on the recovery of jump performance in tailless green anole lizards Anolis carolinensis KUO, CY*; GILLIS, GB; IRSCHICK, DJ; Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst; Mt. Holyoke College; Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst

Locomotor performance is critical to organismal survival but is often impaired when the body parts involved in locomotion is damaged or lost. We hypothesize that practice can help the animals to improve impairment locomotor performance. Green anole lizards (Anolis carolinensis) represents an excellent system for this inquiry. Researchers have found that green anoles suffer from reduced in-air stability after autotomizing their tails. This can pose a serious problem to green anoles given their reliance on jumping in the field. To see whether practice can help restore in-air stability, we examined jump kinematics in three groups of lizards for five consecutive weeks. The first group (practice group) had their tails removed and were allowed to jump once a week. The second group (awareness group) had their tails removed but were only allowed to jump on the first and the last weeks. The third group (control group) had intact tails and were allowed to jump once a week. If practice can help restore in-air stability, a significant difference in in-air stability should exist between practice and awareness groups. On the other hand, if both groups fail to improve their jump performances through time, we might be able to conclude that practice cannot restore in-air stability in green anoles. However, it is also possible that the awareness of tail loss suffices for the lizards to make kinematic adjustments accordingly. If this is true, then we should observe an improvement in jump performances in both practice and awareness groups. Results of this study will elucidate the role of practice in restoring locomotor performance in non-human vertebrates.