Gap-bridging strategies in arboreal chameleons

Ellen Decaestecker

A recommendation of:
Allison M. Luger, Vincent Vermeylen, Anthony Herrel, Dominique Adriaens. Do substrate roughness and gap distance impact gap-bridging strategies in arboreal chameleons? (2020), bioRxiv, 2020.08.21.260596 , ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Zoology. 10.1101/2020.08.21.260596
Submitted: 25 August 2020, Recommended: 29 December 2020
Cite this recommendation as:
Ellen Decaestecker (2020) Gap-bridging strategies in arboreal chameleons. Peer Community in Entomology, 100005. 10.24072/pci.zool.100005

Until now, very little is known about the tail use and functional performance in tail prehensile animals. Luger et al. (2020) are the first to provide explorative observations on trait related modulation of tail use, despite the lack of a sufficiently standardized data set to allow statistical testing. They described whether gap distance, perch diameter, and perch roughness influence tail use and overall locomotor behavior of the species Chamaeleo calyptratus.
Peterson (1984) described already the pattern how and when the tail is moved when bridging the distance from one perch to another. The study by Luger et al. (2020) further explores how this bridging distance, as well as other perch parameters modulate this behavior and the importance of tail use in it. Zippel et al. (1999) study the underlying musculoskeletal anatomy of the tail in chameleons, showing that chameleons have a strikingly different tail anatomy than other prehensile squamates. The difference is (partially) to be seen in the capacity of tail autotomy, that has been lost in chameleons.
Luger et al. (2020) describe the role the tail has in bridging a gap, and show that challenging and acrobatic movements to bridge large gaps, or when grasping on not so rough surfaces, relies heavily on a strong tail. Full body suspension with the tail can explain why tail autotomy has been lost, thus explaining the diverging tail musculature. They speculate on the role of this behavior for sexual selection for males. Sexual selection for males with a higher gripping performance could explain why male chameleons perform better for their size. In addition, boldness could have played a role. The authors state that exploring personality and its links to morphology, performance, and behaviors like grap-bridging would be a worthwhile avenue for future research on sexual selection in reptiles.


Luger, A.M., Vermeylen, V., Herrel, A. and Adriaens, D. (2020) Do substrate roughness and gap distance impact gap-bridging strategies in arboreal chameleons? bioRxiv, 2020.08.21.260596, ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by PCI Zoology. doi:
Peterson, J. A. (1984). The locomotion of Chamaeleo (Reptilia: Sauria) with particular reference to the forelimb. Journal of Zoology, 202(1), 1-42. doi:
Zippel, K. C., Glor, R. E., and Bertram, J. E. (1999). On caudal prehensility and phylogenetic constraint in lizards: the influence of ancestral anatomy on function in Corucia and Furcifer. Journal of Morphology, 239(2), 143-155. doi:;2-O

Revision round #1


Dear Allison Luger and co-authors,

I recieved now 3 review reports of your manuscript. All 3 reviewers are enthusiastic with respect to your study. Nevertheless, they point out that your study remains descriptive. One of the reviewers suggests additional tests that may be considered upon the revision. Therefore I suggest to resubmit your manuscript and address the points the reviewers made in combination with a rebuttal letter how you addressed the comments. Based on these I will make a fast decision to recommend your study through the PCIZoology

Kind regards, Ellen Decaestecker