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Special Issue: Building New Paradigms in Comparative Physiology and Biomechanics



Summary: To link epigenomics with the complex phenotype of physiology, this Commentary outlines an experimental approach for identifying associated epigenetic marks, distinguishing correlated from causal states and identifying plausible evolutionary paths.

Summary: The recent discovery that some fish use their whole bodies for high-performance suction feeding prompts a reappraisal of cranial and axial biomechanics and overall body shape in ray-finned fishes.

Summary: To maximize the efficiency, endurance and reach of a comparative database, we recommend four practices associated with searching, structuring the database, establishing version control and ensuring accessibility.

Summary: Muscles, tendons and bones form linkages that avoid much of the mechanical work demand of locomotion at the level of both the whole leg and the individual muscles.

Summary: Greater transparency, cross-disciplinary integration and consensus building will improve the contributions of experimental biologists towards addressing the impacts of environmental change on living organisms.

Summary: To understand viscoelastic biomaterials, one must analyze strain rate-dependent properties within relevant ecological conditions; a case study is presented to understand how a material functions from genome through organism to ecology.


Summary: DNA-based phylogenetic trees chart the evolutionary origins of giant axons in the Cnidaria, a nerve net/tract condensation that may involve axonal fusion mediated by small fusogen molecules.

Summary: Corrections for body-size effects on phenotypic trait variation should account for interactions with the effects of other causal factors.

Summary: Individuals modify hormone levels to respond to environmental change, but differ in their responsiveness. We review endocrine flexibility studies and recommend using empirical and modeling techniques in tandem to advance understanding.

Summary: Eukaryotes can employ five mechanisms when experiencing stress to accelerate the process of adaptation. These mechanisms are outlined with emphasis on examples in animals.

Summary: How to deal with ‘nuisance heterogeneity’ by re-formalising new effect sizes and multilevel meta-regression models.

Summary: Freshwater teleosts have lower gill oxygen conductance and higher haemoglobin–oxygen affinity than seawater species; both groups use different combinations of these traits to maintain similar metabolic rates and hypoxia tolerance.

Summary: Shared and convergent mechanisms link performance to life history in all animal species.

Summary: Studies combining electrophysiology and RNAseq provide new insights into the roles of voltage-gated, ligand-gated and mechanosensitive ion channels in switching between epithelial ion secretion and reabsorption.


Summary: A comparative analysis of sunfish transcriptomes and 95 fish genomes reveals expansions in specific stress response gene families that correlate with invasive potential.

Summary: In varanid lizard hindlimb muscles, muscle fibre cross-sectional area scales with body mass to the power 0.278–0.197, while the proportion of low-glycogen fibres decreases with mass in some muscles.

Summary: Heat stress exerts disruptive selection on adult corals. This likely underpins variability in offspring survival and results in differences in offspring responses to selection.

Summary: Intertidal invertebrates have a disproportionate number of putative ice-binding proteins relative to other habitats. These putative proteins are highly similar to antifreeze glycoproteins and type II antifreeze proteins from fish.

Summary: Genetically based estimates of the body-mass scaling exponent of metabolic rate in eight animal species average 0.67, but the uncertainty does not exclude other theoretical values (e.g. 0.75).

Summary: Supported by a repetitive motor program, speed regulation involves changes in stride frequency and length. Small-bodied crouched animals primarily regulate speed through changes in stride frequency, while large-bodied arboreal species modulate stride length.

Summary: Field cricket song frequencies and their evolutionary constraints can be predicted using computational models of their sound-producing wing structures.

Summary: Evolutionary analysis shows that asymmetrical gaits were likely present at the base of the gnathostome phylogenetic tree and could be both lost and gained during gnathostome evolution.

Summary: Across reptile taxa, fluctuating developmental temperatures generally benefit embryos at cool mean temperatures but have a cost at warm mean temperatures.

Summary: Case studies presented in this paper use ternary diagrams, a tool used in multiple scientific disciplines, to visualize spatial relationships of muscles across ontogeny, evolution, and muscle mechanics in archosaurs.

Summary: Analysis of treefrog thermal physiology with the Ornstein–Uhlenbeck model of adaptation shows that increasing cold tolerance was key to successful colonization of the temperate zone.

Summary: A cardiovascular heat exchange framework (CHEF) that integrates biophysical concepts with direct measurements of physiological data in the field to identify physiological mechanisms of heat exchange and energetics of thermoregulation.

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