A Comparative Study of Forelimb Muscle Recruitment During Landing in Three Anuran Species: Rana catesbeiana, Rana pipiens and Bufo marinus
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Muscles are what allow animals to walk, jump, run and swim. While they are important in generating the force and power required for propulsive movements, they also are integral to slowing down, serving to absorb energy during decelerations and stopping. In previous studies, Bufo marinus, the cane toad, has been shown to alter the timing and intensity of pre-landing forelimb muscle activity depending on the hop distance. For example, longer hops lead to more intense pre-landing muscle recruitment in muscles acting at the elbow. In this study I tested whether similar modulation in forelimb muscle recruitment was present in two distantly related anuran species, Rana catesbeiana, the bullfrog, and Rana pipiens, the leopard frog, which inhabit more aquatic habitats than Bufo marinus. I found that similar to Bufo marinus, some leopard frogs and bullfrogs showed the ability to tune the timing and intensity of pre-landing muscle recruitment to the distance of the jump. These data indicate that the ability to modulate forelimb muscle recruitment patterns prior to landing is not just present in terrestrial toads but is more widespread and is even found in frogs that often jump into water.