Terrestrial locomotion energy costs vary considerably between species: no evidence that this is explained by rate of leg force production or ecology

Lewis G. Halsey, Craig R. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Inter-specifically, relative energy costs of terrestrial transport vary several-fold. Many pair-wise differences of locomotor costs between similarly-sized species are considerable, and are yet to be explained by morphology or gait kinematics. Foot contact time, a proxy for rate of force production, is a strong predictor of locomotor energy costs across species of different size and might predict variability between similarly sized species. We tested for a relationship between foot contact time and metabolic rate during locomotion from published data. We investigated the phylogenetic correlation between energy expenditure rate and foot contact time, conditioned on fixed effects of mass and speed. Foot contact time does not explain variance in rate of energy expenditure during locomotion, once speed and body size are accounted for. Thus, perhaps surprisingly, inter-specific differences in the mass-independent net cost of terrestrial transport (NCOT) are not explained by rates of force production. We also tested for relationships between locomotor energy costs and eco-physiological variables. NCOT did not relate to any of the tested eco-physiological variables; we thus conclude either that interspecific differences in transport cost have no influence on macroecological and macrophysiological patterns, or that NCOT is a poor indicator of animal energy expenditure beyond the treadmill.

Original languageEnglish
Article number656
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Cite this