Running for your life or running for your dinner: what drives fiber-type evolution in lizard locomotor muscles?
Despite its role in whole-animal performance, the adaptation of muscle physiology related to terrestrial locomotion remains underexplored. We tested evolutionary models based on predator escape and foraging strategies of lizards to assess whether fiber-type composition of a leg muscle is adaptive for behavior. The best-fitting model for fast-twitch fiber-type evolution was one based on predator-escape strategy, while the foraging-mode model fared poorly (Akaike Information Criterion with small sample size correction; ΔAIC_c=29.7). According to the predator-escape model, lizards relying on sprints to avoid predators are predicted to have relatively higher proportions of fast glycolytic (FG) fibers (70%), while cryptic lizards are predicted to have relatively higher fast oxidative glycolytic (FOG) fiber proportions (77%). This pattern suggests an evolutionary trend toward greater FG (FOG) fiber composition among lizards that specialize in sprinting (crypsis). The best-fitting model for slow-twitch fibers had a single optimum, suggesting a common selective pressure across these lizards. The second-best model explaining slow-twitch fiber-type evolution was Brownian motion (ΔAIC_c=0.80), indicating some support for neutral evolution. We find evidence suggesting that different fiber types occurring in the same muscle can evolve under different evolutionary pressures.