Turkeys and Treadmills: Identifying Gait Transitions in Grounded Running

Fall turkey

Credit: iStock

Turkeys are the center of attention at Thanksgiving. But to APS member and Undergraduate Summer Research Fellow Karina Vega, the feathered fowls were the center of a research study that looked at their transition from walking to running. Karina, a biology major at California State University, San Bernardino, studied turkeys while they ran on exercise treadmills in order to study stride frequency and length.

“While running, humans experience an aerial phase, which is when both feet are off the ground at the same time. Turkeys are unique in this aspect in that they instead partake in grounded running, or running without an aerial phase.  Turkeys may not seem like the most ideal animal model, but have been proven to be useful for studies that are interested in running mechanics and energetics to define principles that apply to plenty of other animals.” – Karina Vega

As you might imagine, getting a group of turkeys to cooperate is not easy. Read more about Karina’s work, including what she finds most surprising and challenging about the day-to-day life of a scientist, on the APS Undergraduate Researcher blog.

Erica Roth

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