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Sci Rep. 2016 Apr 12;6:24292. doi: 10.1038/srep24292.

Ontogeny of sex differences in the energetics and kinematics of terrestrial locomotion in leghorn chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus).

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1
Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, M139PT, UK.

Abstract

Sex differences in locomotor performance may precede the onset of sexual maturity and/or arise concomitantly with secondary sex characteristics. Here, we present the first study to quantify the terrestrial locomotor morphology, energetics and kinematics in a species, either side of sexual maturation. In domestic leghorn chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) sexual maturation brings about permanent female gravidity and increased male hind limb muscle mass. We found that the sexes of a juvenile cohort of leghorns shared similar maximum sustainable speeds, while in a sexually mature cohort maximum sustainable speeds were greater by 67% (males) and 34% (females). Furthermore, relative to that in juveniles of the same sex, the absolute duration of leg swing was longer in mature males and shorter in mature females. Consequently, the proportion of a stride that each limb was in contact with the ground (duty factor) was higher in sexually mature females compared to males. Modulation of the duty factor with the development of secondary sex characteristics may act to minimize mechanical work in males; and minimise mechanical power and/or peak force in females. A greater incremental response of mass-specific metabolic power to speed in males compared to females was common to both age cohorts and, therefore, likely results from physiological sexual dimorphisms that precede sexual maturation.

PMID:
27068682
PMCID:
PMC4828670
DOI:
10.1038/srep24292
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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