Meeting Abstract

19.4  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Individual locomotor strategies in degus (Octodon degu) – implication for biomechanical constraints on terrestrial substrates varying in orientation SCHMIDT, André ; Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine

During locomotion animals typically show individual preferences in their locomotor performance (e.g., protraction angle). Previous results suggest that these individual differences gain if substrate orientations become more variable and that wild animals show a higher variability than those kept in captivity. In order to test the effects of different substrate orientations on individual locomotor performances, degus were filmed with a normal light camera as they moved with maximum running speed on terrestrial trackways of different orientations (-30°, -20°, -10°, level, +10°, +20°, +30°). Key spatiotemporal and kinematic parameters were calculated for symmetrical gaits and compared between individuals and substrate orientations. Substantial differences were observed between individuals as they negotiated the substrate challenges. For example, some individual speed ranges were non-overlapping. Consequently, spatiotemporal and kinematic parameters, as well as posture (crouched vs. erect), differ significantly between individuals. However, a smaller magnitude of differences between individuals was observed as degus were confronted with inclines indicating higher biomechanical constraints. (Supported by NSF DBI 0922988)