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The role of ecdysis in repair of an attachment system: A case study using geckos

Pillai, R. R., Riedel, J., Schwarzkopf, L.
Vollständiger Titel: 
The role of ecdysis in repair of an attachment system: A case study using geckos
ZFMK-Autorinnen / ZFMK-Autoren: 
Org. Einordnung: 
Publiziert in: 
Journal of Experimental Biology
DOI Name: 
Attachment, Damage, Ecdysis, Geckos, Integument, Safety factor
Bibliographische Angaben: 
Pillai, R. R., Riedel, J., Schwarzkopf, L. (2023): The role of ecdysis in repair of an attachment system: A case study using geckos. - Journal of Experimental Biology; https://doi.org/10.1242

Skin provides functions such as protection and prevention of water loss. In some taxa the outer surface of skin has been modified to form structures that enable attachment to various surfaces. Constant interaction with surfaces is likely to cause damage to these attachment systems and reduce function. It seems logical that when skin is shed via ecdysis, its effectiveness may increase, through repair of damage or other rejuvenating mechanisms. We address two questions using three diplodactylid geckos as model species: (i) does repeated mechanical damage affect clinging ability in geckos to the point that they cannot support their own body weight? (ii) Does use without induced damage reduce effectiveness of the attachment system, and if so, does ecdysis restore clinging ability? We found that repeated damage reduced clinging ability in all three species, although at different rates. Additionally, use reduced clinging ability over time when no apparent damage was incurred. Clinging ability increased after ecdysis in all three species, both when damage was specially induced, and when it was not. After use without induced damage, the increase in clinging ability after ecdysis was statistically significant in two of three species. Our findings show that use decreases clinging ability, and mechanical damage also effects geckos’ capacity to exert shear forces consistently. Thus, ecdysis improves clinging ability, in both scenarios where damage is induced, and more generally. In addition to the physiological functions provided by skin, our study highlights an important function of ecdysis in a speciose vertebrate group.

Ansprechpartnerin / Ansprechpartner

j.riedel [at] leibniz-zfmk.de