Evolution and mechanisms of animal performance

An Anolis lizard jumping from a force platform. Photograph by E. Toro

The diversity of animal form and function is one of the most notable signatures of evolution. However, with a few rare examples, little is known regarding how animal performance has evolved. This is especially important in the context of complex funcitonal traits that play a key role for animal ecology and behavior. For example, many animals jump to capture prey or escape predators, yet remarkably little is known of the dynamics of jumping in any animal species, especially in a historical or behavioral context. The ability to examine these traits from an evolutionary perspective allows us to answer novel questions at the interface between evolutionary biology and functional morphology. Have animals evolved ways to jump at "optimal" angles for jumping? Is there co-evolution between different components of locomotion, such as acceleration and maximum speed, and are these aspects controlled by the same morphologoical traits? Moreover, our laboratory also examines how the body axis has evolved in squamate reptiles to understand macroevolutionary patterns of function and diversity. Finally, we also examine how many other kinds of environmental and intrinsic factors, such as substrate type, morphology, and gait type (e.g., bipedal vs. quadrupedal) influence animal locomotion.

Relevant literature:

Irschick DJ, Jayne BC.  1998.  Effects of incline on acceleration, body posture, and hindlimb kinematics in two species of lizard, Callisaurus draconoides and Uma scoparia.  Journal of Experimental Biology  201:273-287.

Irschick DJ, Jayne BC.  1999.  Comparative three-dimensional kinematics of the hindlimb for high-speed bipedal and quadrupedal locomotion of lizards.  Journal of Experimental Biology.  202:1047-1065.

Irschick DJ, Jayne BC.  1999.  A field study of effects of incline on the escape locomotion of a bipedal lizard, Callisaurus draconoides  Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.  72:44-56

Jayne BC, Irschick DJ.  1999.  Effects of incline and speed on the three-dimensional hindlimb kinematics of a generalized iguanian lizard (Dipsosaurus dorsalis).  Journal of Experimental Biology  202:143-159.

Toro E, Herrel A, Vanhooydonck B, Irschick DJ. 2003.  A biomechanical analysis of intra- and interspecific scaling of jumping and morphology in Caribbean Anolis lizards.  Journal of Experimental Biology (Cover). 206:2641-2652

Toro E, Herrel A, Irschick DJ. 2004.  The evolution of jumping performance in Caribbean Anolis lizards: solutions to biomechanical trade-offs.  The American Naturalist.  163:844-856.

Irschick DJ, VanHooydonck B, Meyers J, Herrel A.  2005.  Intraspecific correlations among morphology, performance, and habitat use within a green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis) population.  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.  85:211-221.

Toro E, Herrel A, Irschick DJ.  2006.  Movement control strategies during jumping in a lizard (Anolis valencienni).  Journal of Biomechanics.  39:2014-2019.

VanHooydonck B, Herrel A, Van Damme R, Irschick DJ.  2006.  The quick and the fast: the evolution of acceleration capacity in Anolis lizards.  Evolution.  60:2137–2147.

Lailvaux S, Irschick DJ.  2007.  Effects of temperature and sex on jump biomechanics and performance in the lizard Anolis carolinensis.  Functional Ecology. 21:534-543.

Bergmann PJ, Meyers JJ, Irschick DJ.  2009.  Evidence for directional evolution in the body axis of lizards.  Evolution.  63:215-227.

Bergmann PJ, Irschick DJ.  2010.  Alternate pathways of body shape evolution translate into common patterns of locomotor evolution in two clades of lizards. Evolution.  64:1569-1582.

Gilman C, Bartlett MB, Gillis G, Irschick DJ.  2012.  Total recoil: Perch compliance alters jumping performance and kinematics in green anole lizards.  Journal of Experimental Biology.  215:220-226

Bergmann PJ, Irschick DJ. 2012.  Vertebral evolution and the diversification of squamate reptiles.  Evolution.  664:1044-1058.