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J Mot Behav. 2001 Sep;33(3):265-72.

Speed modulation in swimming frogs.

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Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Wilrijk, Antwerp, Belgium.


Swimming movements of 7 European green frogs (Rana esculenta) were studied, starting from the detailed analysis of the speed and timing of the propulsive, glide, and recovery phases of their intermittent swimming behavior. First, the authors identified the spatiotemporal factors used by the frogs to modulate their swimming behavior. None of the gait variables correlated strongly with average swimming speed, and no significant correlations were found between variables belonging to different phases. There did not seem to be an obvious control strategy. Instantaneous speeds at the transition of the different phases all increased significantly with average speed, however. The strong correlation between maximal speed at the end of propulsion and the speed averaged over a cycle might reflect the dominance of the propulsive phase in the determination of the overall swimming speed. The modulation of swimming speed thus seemed largely comparable with the regulation of jumping distance. That finding was confirmed in a mathematical model, in which the positive correlations between both glide and recovery speeds, on the one hand, and average speed, on the other, were shown to be only mathematical consequences of the strong impact of the propulsive phase on overall swimming performance. That finding suggests that the correlations did not result from an active control strategy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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