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The Timing of Muscle Strain and Activation During Steady Swimming in a Salamander, Ambystoma Mexicanum

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Muscle function during undulatory swimming is commonly described by the relative timing of muscle activity (EMG) in the strain cycle and has been studied for several fish species, ranging from anguilliforms to carangiforms. This paper supplies the basic data for steady swimming at an intermediate speed in a salamander (Ambystoma mexicanum). The strain cycle of the swimming muscles is estimated using high-speed video recordings (500 frames s-1) of an animal swimming in a flow tank. Synchronously, EMG signals of six epaxial myomeres were recorded using bipolar electrodes inserted unilaterally along the body. The neural stimulation pattern is a head-to-tail travelling wave with a higher speed than the kinematical propulsive wave. The resultant phase delay causes a different muscle recruitment pattern along the body axis, similar to reports for anguilliform fishes like the lamprey (WILLIAMS et al., 1989) and the eel (GRILLNER & KASHIN, 1976). The anterior trunk myomeres (up to 45% of the total body length L) are activated purely concentrically (i.e., while shortening). Caudal to the 45% L position, the muscles show an increasing proportion of eccentrical activation. This pattern suggests that there is gross positive work delivery along the body axis, with a limited amount of negative work in the tail tip. This is in agreement with the general conclusions for fish of WARDLE & VIDELER (1994), where this recruitment pattern is associated with a body shape without a distinct tail blade and with direct and continuous thrust production along the body.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of Antwerp (U.I.A.), Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerpen, Belgium

10.1163/156854295X00212
/content/journals/10.1163/156854295x00212
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/content/journals/10.1163/156854295x00212
1995-01-01
2016-12-04

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