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Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2010 Jul;156(3):309-17. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2010.01.022. Epub 2010 Feb 11.

Load carrying during locomotion in the barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis): the effect of load placement and size.

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Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PT, UK.


Load carrying has been used to study the energetics and mechanics of locomotion in a range of taxa. Here we investigated the energetic and kinematic effects of trunk and limb loading in walking barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis). A directly proportional relationship between increasing back-load mass and metabolic rate was established, indicating that the barnacle goose can carry back loads (up to 20% of body mass) more economically than the majority of mammals. The increased cost of supporting and propelling the body during locomotion is likely to account for a major proportion of the extra metabolic cost. Sternal loads up to 15% of body mass were approximately twice as expensive to carry as back loads. Given the key role in dorso-ventral movement of the sternum during respiration we suggest that moving this extra mass may account for the elevated metabolic rate. Loading the distal limb with 5% extra mass incurred the greatest proportional rise in metabolism, and also caused increases in stride length, swing duration and stride frequency during locomotion. The increased work required to move the loaded limb may explain the high cost of walking.

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