Term of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Lance McBrayer

Committee Member 1

Emily Kane

Committee Member 2

Christian Cox


Morphology, locomotion, and behavior are co-adapted to optimize performance and ultimately fitness. Successfully navigating a complex environment is dictated by an animal’s locomotor behavior, and for some behaviors, its locomotor performance. The locomotor performance of an organism is directly related to the form and function of the structures involved in locomotion such that movement is efficient – that is, minimal loss of energy. The first chapter of this thesis focuses on the effects of obstacle placement and forelimb position on facultative bipedalism. Placing an obstacle beyond a lizard’s acceleration threshold did not affect the frequency of bipedal posture. Furthermore, the forelimb position of streamlined species is stereotyped during bipedal running, whereas the forelimb positions are varied in short stocky species. The second chapter investigates shape variation in the scapula among Phrynosomatid lizards across a gradient of species that vary in the use of horizontal to vertical locomotor planes. I determined that while global scapula shape is relatively conserved among lizards, localized changes occur at the muscle attachment sites used in vertical vs. horizontal locomotion. Furthermore, scapular shape in relation to habitat use is phylogenetically conserved with the exception of some Sceloporus species which diverged independently towards terrestrial locomotion.

Research Data and Supplementary Material