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Physiol Biochem Zool. 1999 Nov-Dec;72(6):732-9.

Intermittent locomotion increases endurance in a gecko.

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Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA.


Nocturnal geckos can actively forage at low temperatures. A low minimum cost of locomotion allows greater sustainable speeds by partially offsetting the decrease in maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) associated with low nocturnal temperatures. The nocturnality hypothesis (Autumn et al. 1997) proposes that the reduced cost of continuous locomotion is a shared, derived characteristic that increases the capacity to sustain locomotion at low temperatures. Yet many lizards move intermittently at speeds exceeding those that elicit VO2max. We exercised the frog-eyed gecko, Teratoscincus przewalskii, continuously and intermittently on a treadmill. At an exercise speed of 0.90 km h-1 (270% maximum aerobic speed), lizards alternating a 15-s exercise period with a 30-s pause period exhibited a 1.7-fold increase in distance capacity (total distance traveled before fatigue) compared with lizards exercised continuously at the same average speed (0.30 km h-1). The average aerobic cost of intermittent exercise was not significantly different from VO2max. Locomoting intermittently could augment the increase in endurance resulting from the low minimum cost of continuous locomotion in nocturnal geckos. Intermittent behavior could increase the endurance of lizard movement in general.

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