UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Biomechanics of swimming in the frog, Hymenochirus boettgeri Gál, Julianna Mary


Although frogs are recognized as accomplished swimmers, no detailed biomechanical study has been done. The hydrodynamics and mechanics of swimming, in the frog, Hymenochirus boettgeri, are investigated in this thesis. Hydrodynamic drag, of the body and splayed hind limbs of preserved H. boettgeri, was assessed by drop-tank experiments. Drag tests were also performed with the semi-terrestrial Rana pipiens. A comparison of their drag coefficients (CD) under dynamically similar conditions, suggests that jumping performance may not compromise the swimming ability of R. pipiens. Drag of the expanded foot of H. boettgeri, and acetate models thereof, was investigated by free fall drop-tank experiments, and a subtraction technique. The results of these methods and flow visualization experiments support the assumption that animal paddles can be treated as three dimensional flat plates, oriented normal to the direction of flow. Cine films were used to study swimming during the near-vertical breathing excursions of H. boettgeri. The acceleration of frogs throughout hind limb extension (power stroke), is distinct from other drag-based paddlers (eg. angelfish and water boatman), which accelerate and decelerate within the power stroke phase. The propulsive force generated during the power stroke of a single sequence (sequence 1) is calculated from quasi-steady drag (static-body drag measurements, see Chapter I) and inertial considerations. Additional components of the forcebalance, including the net effect of gravity and buoyancy, and the longitudinal added mass forces associated with the frog's body, are integrated to establish upper and lower bounds of the propulsive force. The propulsive force remains positive throughout extension. The validity of using static drag estimates to describe dynamic resistance is explored. Results from Chapter II suggest that simple drag-based models may not be sufficient to explain the swimming patterns observed. The right hind limb of the sequence 1 animal was modelled as a series of linked circular cylinders (the femur, tibiofibula, and metatarsal-phalangeal segments) and a flat plate (the foot). A blade-element approach was used to calculate the instantaneous drag-based and accelerative force components (parallel to the direction of motion) generated by hind limb flexion and extension. The negative thrust, generated by hind limb flexion, is probably responsible for the observed deceleration of the sequence 1 animal. Positive thrust is generated only during the initial stages of extension, almost exclusively by the feet. The impulse of the accelerative-based thrust far exceedes the impulse of the drag-based thrust. Negative thrust is initiated midway, and continues thoughout extension, despite the acceleration of the animal. Hind limb interaction, is thought to provide propulsive thrust for the latter half of the extension phase. A jet and/or ground effect may be involved. It is suggested that a combination of reactive, resistive and interactive forces are required to explain propulsion in H. boettgeri, and probably other anurans.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.