Phylogenetic comparisons of pedestrian locomotion costs: confirmations and new insights

Authors: Craig R White, Lesley A Alton, Taryn S Crispin, and Lewis G Halsey

Published in: Ecology and Evoloution, volume 6, issue 18 (September 2016)


The energetic costs for animals to locomote on land influence many aspects of their ecology. Size accounts for much of the among-species variation in terrestrial transport costs, but species of similar body size can still exhibit severalfold differences in energy expenditure.

We compiled measurements of the (mass-specific) minimum cost of pedestrian transport (COTmin, mL/kg/m) for 201 species – by far the largest sample to date – and used phylogenetically informed comparative analyses to investigate possible eco-evolutionary differences in COTmin between various groupings of those species.

We investigated number of legs, ectothermy and endothermy, waddling, and nocturnality specifically in lizards. Thus, our study primarily revisited previous theories about variations in COTmin between species, testing them with much more robust analyses.

Having accounted for mass, while residual COTmin did not differ between bipedal and other species, specifically waddling bipeds were found to have relatively high COTmin. Furthermore, nocturnal lizards have relatively low COTmin although temperature does not appear to affect COTmin in ectotherms.

Previous studies examining across-species variation in COTmin from a biomechanical perspective show that the differences between waddling birds and nonwaddling species, and between nocturnal lizards and other ecotherms, are likely to be attributable to differences in ground reaction forces, posture, and effective limb length.

White CR, Alton LA, Crispin TS, Halsey LG (2016) Phylogenetic comparisons of pedestrian locomotion costs: confirmations and new insights. Ecology and Evolution PDF DOI