Self-cleaning in tree frog toe pads; a mechanism for recovering from contamination without the need for grooming

Crawford, N., Endlein, T. and Barnes, W.J.P. (2012) Self-cleaning in tree frog toe pads; a mechanism for recovering from contamination without the need for grooming. Journal of Experimental Biology, 215(22), pp. 3965-3972. (doi:10.1242/jeb.073809)

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Abstract

Tree frogs use adhesive toe pads for climbing on a variety of surfaces. They rely on wet adhesion, which is aided by the secretion of mucus. In nature, the pads will undoubtedly get contaminated regularly through usage, but appear to maintain their stickiness over time. Here, we show in two experiments that the toe pads of White's tree frogs (Litoria caerulea) quickly recover from contamination through a self-cleaning mechanism. We compared adhesive forces prior to and after contamination of (1) the whole animal on a rotatable platform and (2) individual toe pads in restrained frogs mimicking individual steps using a motorised stage. In both cases, the adhesive forces recovered after a few steps but this took significantly longer in single toe pad experiments from restrained frogs, showing that use of the pads increases recovery. We propose that both shear movements and a ‘flushing’ effect of the secreted mucus play an important role in shedding particles/contaminants.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Endlein, Dr Thomas and Crawford, Mr Niall and Barnes, Dr W.Jon.P
Authors: Crawford, N., Endlein, T., and Barnes, W.J.P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Journal Name:Journal of Experimental Biology
ISSN:0022-0949
ISSN (Online):3965-3972
Published Online:01 January 2012

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