A Morphological Method to Approximate Jumping Performance in Anurans for Macroevolutionary Studies

Juarez, Bryan
Moen, Daniel
Adams, Dean
Adams, Dean
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Adams, Dean
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

Organismal performance is often key in understanding macroevolutionary patterns but characterizing performance across many species is challenging, as the disparate geographic locations of taxa often prohibit in vivo measures. In theory, however, inferences on the evolution of performance could be investigated using anatomical approximations of performance parameters, allowing for a wider range of species to be sampled. In this study, we use biological and physical principles to mathematically derive three size-standardized anatomical approximations for three different aspects of jumping performance at take-off in anurans: peak jumping velocity, energy, and power. We also describe several ways to parameterize these approximations using, for example, measurements of leg length, leg muscle mass, and body mass. We evaluate the efficacy of these approaches via comparison with direct size-standardized measures of jumping performance across 256 individuals from 51 anuran species. Using both phylogenetic and non-phylogenetic approaches, we find that two of the three anatomical approximations (velocity and energy) are highly correlated with in vivo measures, while a third (power) is not. This reveals that the former may serve as reliable estimates of those aspects of jumping performance, while the latter approximation does not capture all aspects of jumping power in anurans. We also report significant phylogenetic signal for the approximations, as found in in vivo measures. These analyses demonstrate the utility of anatomical approximations for use in macroevolutionary studies. Relative to in vivo laboratory methods, this new method allows for broad museum-based taxonomic surveys of jumping performance in anurans and possibly other jumping animals.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Juarez, B.H., Moen, D.S. & Adams, D.C. A Morphological Method to Approximate Jumping Performance in Anurans for Macroevolutionary Studies. Evol Biol (2020). doi: 10.1007/s11692-020-09509-7. Posted with permission.