Speed and Stamina Trade-Off in Lacertid Lizards

Evolution. 2001 May;55(5):1040-8. doi: 10.1554/0014-3820(2001)055[1040:sastoi]2.0.co;2.


Morphological and physiological considerations suggest that sprinting ability and endurance capacity put conflicting demands on the design of an animal's locomotor apparatus and therefore cannot be maximized simultaneously. To test this hypothesis, we correlated size-corrected maximal sprint speed and stamina of 12 species of lacertid lizards. Phylogenetically independent contrasts of sprint speed and stamina showed a significant negative relationship, giving support to the idea of an evolutionary trade-off between the two performance measures. To test the hypothesis that the trade-off is mediated by a conflict in morphological requirements, we correlated both performance traits with snout-vent length, size-corrected estimates of body mass and limb length, and relative hindlimb length (the residuals of the relationship between hind- and forelimb length). Fast-running species had hindlimbs that were long compared to their forelimbs. None of the other size or shape variables showed a significant relationship with speed or endurance. We conclude that the evolution of sprint capacity may be constrained by the need for endurance capacity and vice versa, but the design conflict underlying this trade-off has yet to be identified.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Female
  • Lizards / anatomy & histology
  • Lizards / genetics
  • Lizards / physiology*
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Phylogeny
  • Species Specificity