Meeting Abstract

S1-4.10  Jan. 5  Locomotor biomechanics of a free-ranging gliding mammal (Cynocephalus variegatus) BYRNES, G. T.*; SPENCE, A. J.; Univ. of California, Berkeley; Univ. of California, Berkeley

One of the biggest challenges in comparative biomechanics is to describe the locomotor performance of animals in their natural environment. This is important because measures of performance in the lab might not directly reflect the behavior of free-ranging animals. Furthermore, the subset of behaviors represented in the lab may not be an accurate representation of the full repertoire of behavioral variation. In gliding mammals, the locomotor forces during take off and landing might have significant outcomes for survival, in avoiding predation or injury. However, these forces have not been measured in any free-ranging animal. This study examined the locomotor behavior of free-ranging colugos (Cynocephalus variegatus) using custom-designed data-loggers, allowing the collection of both behavioral and biomechanical data in the field. The logger consists of a three-axis accelerometer sampled at 100Hz and a bank of flash memory allowing up to 75 hours of data to be stored at this rate. We examined the timing and duration of glides as well the peak forces associated with take-off and landing events. Glide duration, a proxy for glide length, predicted peak landing force but not peak take-off forces. Longer glides allowed animals to reduce the impact forces associated with landing. This is further evidence that these gliding mammals actively modulate aerodynamic forces during glides. By examining locomotor kinetics in the natural environment, this allows insights into the link between biomechanics and the ecology of the organism.