APS Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology

Evolutionary Physiology of Locomotor Behavior: Causes, Consequences, and Mechanisms

Symposium — Tuesday, April 27, 2021 — 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM — Virtual Session, Room APS-4
Comparative & Evolutionary Physiology Section — Chair: Theodore Garland, Jr. — Co-Chair:

Locomotion is arguably the behavior that most dictates the morphology and physiology of animals.Animals must locomote to obtain food, escape from predators, and find mates.Locomotion is caused by signals from the central nervous system and does not occur unless an individual is motivated to express a given behavior.At the same time, locomotion relies on the integrated functioning of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, not to mention internal organs, such as the liver, that are crucial during sustained physical activity.Therefore, we expect that when selection favors the evolution of high locomotor behavior (e.g., related to covering large home ranges to find sufficient food in a resource-spares environment), the evolutionary response will involve all organ systems within the body, including the brain's reward system.Changes in the genes that underlie variation in, for example, the endocrine system, will likely have cascading effects on other aspects of biology, which can be referred to as pleiotropic gene action.Given all of the interdependencies, studies of the evolutionary physiology of locomotor behavior have often taken integrative approaches,using diverse organisms.The four invited speakers will illustrate some examples that should be of interest to a wide range of physiologists.David Raichlen (senior), an anthropologist who also works with animal models,will discuss the evolutionary physiology of human locomotion, from the perspectives of both proximate and ultimate causation, as well as health consequences of reduced physical activity in Western societies.Matthew Fuxjager (senior) has conducted pioneering studies of the evolution of animal courtship displays, how they may be constrained by muscular performance, and how they coadapt with other aspects of the life history.Roslyn Dakin (new assistant professor) will discuss phylogenetic analyses of the ways in which morphology, muscle capacity, aerodynamic skill, and maneuvering ability have evolved in a concerted fashion in hummingbirds, which have considerable appeal to general audiences.Layla Hiramatsu (postdoc) has worked on the physiology and genetics/genomics of replicate lines of house mice that have experienced long-term selective breeding for high levels of voluntary wheel-running behavior.Together, this set of speakers will review past accomplishments, highlight current hop topics, and point the way to essential future directions in the evolutionary physiology of locomotion.


  • Introduction
    Theodore Garland, Jr. — Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, University of California Riverside
    2:00 PM - 2:02 PM

  • Evolutionary Physiology of Human Locomotion: Proximate and Ultimate Causation
    David Raichlen — Biological Sciences, University of Southern California
    2:02 PM - 2:32 PM

  • Co-Adaptation of Locomotor Abilities, Muscle Performance, and Neuroendocrine Function with Courtship Displays
    Matthew Fuxjager — Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University
    2:32 PM - 3:02 PM

  • Effects of Early-Life Exposure to Western Diet and Voluntary Exercise in Selectively Bred High Runner Mice

    Marcell Cadney — Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, University of California Riverside
    3:02 PM - 3:15 PM

  • The Ecological Advantages and Physiological Disadvantages of Bipedal Locomotion for Small Desert Rodents
    Talia Moore — Robotics Institute, University of Michigan
    3:15 PM - 3:28 PM

  • Conclusion
    Theodore Garland, Jr. — Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, University of California Riverside
    3:28 PM - 3:30 PM

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