Advance, inform, test, refine and exploit the Muscle/Mechanical Compromise Framework

Year of award: 2016


  • Dr Jim Usherwood

    Royal Veterinary College

Project summary

For an animal to perform an action economically, it must have the mechanics and the conditions for the muscles correct. There are often conflicting demands in much of animal locomotion. A new framework allows exploration of the muscle/mechanical compromises, providing fundamental accounts for anything from human leg forces during walking and running, to why sparrows flap their wings in a different way to eagles.The aim of this project is to inform and advance the models to incorporate changes of energy through incline and decline locomotion and differences in muscle properties, and how these can vary with training, development, age, size and species.

Mice trained to run under hypergravity in a centrifuge will be used to investigate the capacity for muscle and gait mechanics to adapt when operating with a reduced ‘time’. Birds of a range of size and species (from quail to ostrich) and ages (chick to subadult ostrich) will demonstrate scaling of muscle properties and gait mechanics. We will test the effect of inclusion and changes in energy on the motions and the oxygen consumption of humans using sloping treadmills. Large populations will be measured walking at science fairs and running at running clubs to differentiate the effects of age and size.