Running for Your Life or Running for Your Dinner: What Drives Fiber‐Type Evolution in Lizard Locomotor Muscles?

  • Scales J
  • King A
  • Butler M
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Despite its role in whole-animal performance, the adaptation of muscle physiology related to terrestrial locomotion remains underexplored. We tested evolutionary models based on predator escape and foraging strategies of lizards to assess whether fiber-type composition of a leg muscle is adaptive for behavior. The best-fitting model for fast-twitch fiber-type evolution was one based on predator-escape strategy, while the foraging-mode model fared poorly (Akaike Information Criterion with small sample size correction; DeltaAICc=29.7). According to the predator-escape model, lizards relying on sprints to avoid predators are predicted to have relatively higher proportions of fast glycolytic (FG) fibers (70%), while cryptic lizards are predicted to have relatively higher fast oxidative glycolytic (FOG) fiber proportions (77%). This pattern suggests an evolutionary trend toward greater FG (FOG) fiber composition among lizards that specialize in sprinting (crypsis). The best-fitting model for slow-twitch fibers had a single optimum, suggesting a common selective pressure across these lizards. The second-best model explaining slow-twitch fiber-type evolution was Brownian motion (DeltaAICc=0.80), indicating some support for neutral evolution. We find evidence suggesting that different fiber types occurring in the same muscle can evolve under different evolutionary pressures.

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  • Jeffrey A. Scales

  • Aaron A. King

  • Marguerite A. Butler

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