Volume 299, Issue 1 p. 51-57
Original Article

Comparative jumping mechanics in plethodontid salamanders

W. G. Ryerson

Corresponding Author

W. G. Ryerson

Biology Department, Saint Anselm College, Manchester, NH, USA

Correspondence

William Ryerson, Department of Biology, Saint Anselm College, 100 St. Anselm Drive, Manchester, NH 03102, USA. Email: [email protected]

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A. L. Hessel

A. L. Hessel

Biology Department, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA, USA

Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA

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L. B. Whitenack

L. B. Whitenack

Biology Department, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA, USA

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First published: 14 January 2016
Citations: 4
Editor: Andrew Kitchener

Abstract

Plethodontid salamanders have a myriad of defense mechanisms with which to escape predation. One of the most poorly understood mechanisms is jumping, which is driven by lateral body bending; rapid straightening of the body propels the salamander into the air. One previous examination of jumping in one plethodontid salamander found little evidence of ontogenetic changes in the mechanics of jumping. Here, we investigate jumping in six species of plethodontid salamanders, across a wide array of body sizes. Comparing morphological and kinematic variables, jump height scaled with body size and forelimb length. Species differed in morphology, and when comparing kinematic variables across species, only bending duration differed. The lack of scaling patterns leads to several hypotheses, and further investigation of the morphology of the axial musculature is required.