Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Benefits of reproduction outweigh costs to locomotion

Image of a Schistocerca americana via Wikimedia Commons.

Christopher Ringer, an undergraduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Kate Feller at Union College also shared his research at the American Physiology Summit last month. His research examined the impact of reproductive weight gain on a female locust’s ability to jump. Gravid female locusts (Schistocerca americana) carrying eggs gain as much as 40% additional body mass. Despite this weight gain, they can still jump high and far when necessary. Although, research in the laboratory of Dr. Scott Kirkton has shown that non-gravid females can jump as far as 189 cm, whereas gravid females can only jump 169 cm on average. In fact, simply adding weight decreased both the frequency and distance of jumping in both gravid and non-gravid females. These data demonstrate that reductions in locomotion may be a cost of reproduction in female locusts.

Christopher’s research aims to figure out how the female locusts compensate for additional weight as well as whether male locusts could make similar adjustments when carrying extra weight.

Interestingly, pregnant women also experience shifts in locomotion to compensate for the added weight and shift in center of gravity. As pregnancy progresses, they tend to take shorter steps and walk with their feet wider apart than women who are not pregnant.


Ringer C, Feller K. The effect of weight gain on locust jumping kinematics and extensor muscle activity (Schistocerca americana). 2023 American Physiology Summit.

Valachobic AC, Kirkton SD. Effects of gravidity on locust jump performance. The FASEB Journal. 34(S1): 1-1, 2020.

Gilleard WL. Trunk motion and gait characteristics of pregnant women when walking: Report of a longitudinal study with a control group. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 13: 71, 2013.

Categories: Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Livestock, Exercise, Physiology on the Road, Reproduction and Development

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