Energy costs of locomotion in mammals can be predicted from running speed and body mass, with the minimum cost decreasing regularly with increasing mass (Mb-0.30). The predictive value of this model is surprising, given the differences in gait and limb structure among mammals. The decrease in mass-specific cost cannot be explained by the work done in moving the limbs and the centre of mass, as animals of different sizes do the same amount of work to move a unit mass a unit distance. The magnitude of the muscle forces involved and the shortening velocity are more likely causes. Terrestrial mammals use a variety of gaits to minimise locomotory energy costs with a ‘preferred speed’ within each of those gaits correlating with the point of greatest economy. The maximum mass-specific energy cost during locomotion is about 10 times the resting level, but there is marked variation among species, especially between wild and domestic forms. The total cost for locomotion in mammals lies between 1 and 6% of the daily energy budget. Hopping is an energetically cheap way of moving in large animals and correlates with phase-locking of respiratory and limb frequencies. This form of coupling is also seen in most other mammals, especially at higher running speeds. Comparison of the relative costs of running, flying and swimming for a given body mass shows a respective decrease, but each of these costs scales similarly with body size.

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