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Journal of Experimental Biology partnership with Dryad

IS WALKING COSTLY FOR ANURANS? THE ENERGETIC COST OF WALKING IN THE NORTHERN TOAD BUFO BOREAS HALOPHILUS
B Walton, C Peterson, A Bennett

Summary

Locomotor mode and the maximal capacity for aerobic metabolism are thought to be co-adapted in anuran amphibians. Species that rely heavily on walking often have high capacities for aerobic metabolism relative to species that rely primarily on saltation. We tested the hypothesis of co-adaptation of gait and aerobic metabolism by investigating the locomotor energetics of Bufo boreas halophilus, a toad that walks, but does not hop. Rates of oxygen consumption during locomotion were measured in an enclosed variable-speed treadmill. The steady-state rate of oxygen consumption (V(dot)O2ss) increased linearly within a range of sustainable speeds [V(dot)O2ss (ml O2 g-1 h-1) = 0.93 x speed (km h-1) + 0.28]. The minimum cost of transport, Cmin (the slope of this relationship), varied significantly among individual toads. When expressed in units of oxygen consumed per distance travelled (ml O2 km-1), Cmin scaled isometrically with body mass: Cmin = 0.69mass1.07. Consequently, mass-specific Cmin (ml O2 g-1 km-1) was uncorrelated with body mass. Variation in Cmin was also unrelated to experimental temperature. Mass-specific Cmin estimates were similar to previous allometric predictions for terrestrial animals of similar size, which contrasts with previous findings for another toad species. Maximum rates of oxygen consumption measured in closed, rotating respirometers were significantly higher than the maximum rates achieved on the treadmill, but lower than those measured previously in other Bufo species. Our results indicate that walking is not necessarily a costly gait for toads and that high maximum rates of oxygen consumption are not associated with reliance on walking within the genus Bufo.