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Performance of Green Anole Lizards

Jumping anole lizard

For many animals, moving with a considerable amount of physical burden is almost a daily routine. Would an animal’s experience be different after it eats a meal that equals to about 30 percent of its own mass? Do they have a way to handle this situation? Chi-Yun Kuo, a PhD student in OEB, tries to answer these questions by adding loads onto green anole lizards and examining the changes in their jump performance. As the first step to understand how animals deal with this kind of challenge in their daily lives, Chi-Yun wants to find out if the ability to perform the same locomotor task would be different when animals have to carry loads. Also, he is interested in how animals’ musculoskeletal systems respond to such perturbations caused by these additional burdens. Green anoles are an excellent subject for this research topic. They often run along tree trunks and jump from branch to branch to move around their habitats. More importantly, they can readily consume food items that weigh about 20~30% of their own body mass. Chi-Yun is looking at two aspects of jump performance, the abilities to jump far and to jump with accuracy (that is, to land wherever they intend to land) is crucial to their fitness because these are the most crucial to the fitness of arboreal animals like green anoles. Using high-speed filming technique (500 frames per second), Chi-Yun can extract detailed information on jumping behavior from the recorded videos: the distance of the jumps, the angles and speed at which lizards take off, and the outcomes of landings. Based on these information, Chi-Yun hopes to find out how an animal’s daily life would be altered when it has to move with an inevitable extra load.

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