Dec 16, 2005

Running over rough terrain: guinea fowl maintain dynamic stability despite a large unexpected change in substrate height

The Journal of Experimental Biology
M A DaleyAndrew A Biewener

Abstract

In the natural world, animals must routinely negotiate varied and unpredictable terrain. Yet, we know little about the locomotor strategies used by animals to accomplish this while maintaining dynamic stability. In this paper, we perturb the running of guinea fowl with an unexpected drop in substrate height (DeltaH). The drop is camouflaged to remove any visual cue about the upcoming change in terrain that would allow an anticipatory response. To maintain stability upon a sudden drop in substrate height and prevent a fall, the bird must compensate by dissipating energy or converting it to another form. The aim of this paper is to investigate the control strategies used by birds in this task. In particular, we assess the extent to which guinea fowl maintain body weight support and conservative spring-like body dynamics in the perturbed step. This will yield insight into how animals integrate mechanics and control to maintain dynamic stability in the face of real-world perturbations. Our results show that, despite altered body dynamics and a great deal of variability in the response, guinea fowl are quite successful in maintaining dynamic stability, as they stumbled only once (without falling) in the 19 unexpected perturbations. ...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Galliformes
Weighing Patient
Running (Physical Activity)
Soleus Muscle Structure
Family Numididae
Limb Structure
Postural Balance
Kinematics
Erythrokeratodermia Variabilis
Video Recording

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