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Physiol Zool., 1997; 70(6): 660-9, PMID: 9361140

Low cost of locomotion in the banded Gecko: a test of the nocturnality hypothesis

Year: 1997

Autumn K, Farley CT, Emshwiller M, Full RJ
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.


This study tested the hypothesis that there has been an evolutionary increase in locomotor performance capacity at low temperature in nocturnal lizards. Nocturnal lizards are often active at low and suboptimal body temperatures. An evolutionary decrease in the minimum cost of locomotion could increase endurance capacity at low temperature, partially offsetting the thermal handicap of nocturnality. In support of the nocturnality hypothesis, we discovered that minimum cost of locomotion of a nocturnal gecko, Coleonyx variegatus (4.2 g), was only 58% of the minimum cost of locomotion of Phrynosoma douglassii, a diurnal lizard (4.5 g). As a result, maximum aerobic speed was 2.3 times as great in the nocturnal lizard compared to the diurnal lizard. By using the method of phylogenetically independent contrasts at the species level, we showed that the relationship between mass and minimum cost of locomotion in diurnal lizards was similar to that of the ahistorical standard allometry and that low minimum cost of locomotion in geckos represents a significant evolutionary change from the ancestral diurnal pattern. The decrease in the minimum cost of locomotion concordant with the evolution of nocturnality suggests that geckos evolved a greater capacity for sustained locomotion at low temperature.

GID: 95; Last update: 16.12.2007