Effects of Slope upon Hind Limb Kinematics in Chukar Partridge


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Effects of Slope upon Hind Limb Kinematics in Chukar Partridge is a well-researched Life Sciences Thesis/Dissertation topic, it is to be used as a guide or framework for your Academic Research.


Ground dwelling birds must scale all kinds of complex terrain in order to survive in their natural environments. For instance, Alectoris chukar lives on steep hillsides with slopes of up to 60° or 172.3% slope. We undertook the present study to improve understanding of how birds successfully traverse such complex terrain. Using a high-speed camera, we analyzed the hind limb kinematics of chukars during normal locomotion on a 10° and 35° incline, decline, and level slope.

We compared the data collected from the video recordings, which we had used to identify and digitize the bony landmarks, between all conditions. We discovered that the kinematics of the hind limbs of chukars differed significantly depending on the angle of the slope being traversed during normal locomotion. Compared to the other conditions, during descent at 35°, the maximum and minimum knee angles and the maximum angles within the foot demonstrate significant differences.

This result suggests a correlation between the steepness of the slope being traversed and the muscular activity required to acquire the specific body positions necessary to accomplish locomotion on the various, demanding slopes found in their habitats.


In the wild, Alectoris chukar, birds that are in the Galliformes clade, have to scale all kinds of terrain in order to survive. Certain populations live in the extremely mountainous terrain of the Himalayas, where they must traverse steep slopes (Christensen 1970).

They mostly live on hillsides with rocky slopes that can range from angles of 30° to 60° In North America, chokers live in high-elevation shrubland anywhere from 4,000 to 13,000 feet. Being ground-dwelling birds that can only fly short distances, they rarely resort to flying unless threatened. Instead, they rely almost exclusively on the camouflage provided by brushes and grasses.

Traversing through their complex habitat requires the chukars to dart quickly from shrub to shrub in order to survive, and efficiency in gait over a wide variety of slopes is essential for energy conservation and ultimately, survival.

Traversing on sloped surfaces places different mechanical demands on the musculoskeletal system than on level surfaces, requiring significant alterations to body positions and muscular use (Biewener and Daley 2007). A study on incline running in turkeys (Melia grisly gallopavo) found that the amount of work done by the lateral gastrocnemius muscle is proportional to the level of incline being traversed (Roberts et al. 1997).

Despite this study also only examining incline locomotion, it hints at a strong association between the amount of muscle activity needed to traverse on non-level planes and the steepness of the plane. Another study focused on muscle function within the lateral gastrocnemius, as well as other prominent hind limb muscles, in guinea fowl during bipedal walking, but only conducted experiments on a level and 16° incline slope.

This study also found there was a direct correlation between body mass and the amount of work produced in order to perform different locomotive tasks (Biewener and Daley 2003). This information suggests that muscle function depends on the conditions present during locomotion While many scientists have researched muscle function during level and incline bipedal locomotion in birds, there is almost no research regarding decline locomotion (Roberts et al. 1997).

However, one study states that moving downhill significantly reduces velocity due to the fact that the bird’s movements are easily augmented due to gravity (Kivell et al. 2010). Previous studies have also pointed out that bipedal animals tend to alter the function of their legs by using their limbs as brakes when moving downhill (Lammers et al. 2006).

The little evidence that there is regarding decline vs incline and level locomotion emphasizes the point that the muscles within the hind limbs of birds do indeed function differently depending on the conditions of the environment that the bird is in. We want to study whether the overall kinematics of the hind limbs of chukars will differ significantly depending on the angle of the slope being traversed.

Thus, rather than only studying locomotion at low-level angles or during incline locomotion, as seen in the previous studies mentioned above, we will observe the kinematics during both inclines and decline locomotion at up to 35°.

The result of this study can be used to help us gain a better understanding of how birds function during bipedal locomotion in a wide variety of conditions. Given the information from previous studies that have involved similar experiments and state that angles within the hind limb joints are affected by slope, we predict that the kinematics of the hind limbs of chukars will differ significantly depending on the angle of the slope being traversed during normal locomotion (Higham and Nelson 2008). In particular, we predict locomotion on a steep decline slope will differ from the other level or incline slopes.

An alternative hypothesis is that there will be a correlation between the steepness of the slope being traversed and body positions necessary to perform locomotion on the various slopes. We believe that the chukars will realign their body postures in order to adapt and overcome the difficulties of walking on a steep slope within our experiment, as they do in their natural habitats.


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