Animals respond to changes in power requirements during locomotion by modulating the intensity of recruitment of their propulsive musculature, but many questions concerning how muscle recruitment varies with speed across modes of locomotion remain unanswered. We measured average muscle recruitment intensity (aEMG) for pectoralis major and biceps brachii at different flight speeds in two relatively distantly related bat species: the aerial insectivore Eptesicus fuscus, and the primarily fruit eating Carollia perspicillata. These ecologically distinct species employ different flight behaviors but possess similar wing aspect ratio, wing loading and body mass. Because propulsive requirements usually correlate with body size, and aEMG likely reflects force, we hypothesized that these species would deploy similar speed-dependent aEMG modulation. Instead, we found that aEMG was speed-independent in E. fuscus and modulated in a U-shaped or linearly increasing relationship with speed in C. perspicillata. This interspecific difference may be related to differences in muscle fiber type composition and/or overall patterns of recruitment of the large ensemble of muscles that participate in actuating the highly articulated bat wing. We also found interspecific differences in the speed-dependence of 3D wing kinematics: E. fuscus modulates wing flexion during upstroke significantly more than C. perspicillata. Overall, we observe two different strategies to increase flight speed; C. perspicillata tends to modulate aEMG and E. fuscus tends to modulate wing kinematics. These strategies may reflect different requirements for avoiding negative lift and overcoming drag during slow and fast flight respectively, a subject we suggest merits further study.
- Received July 8, 2016.
- Accepted February 21, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd