Comparability and repeatability of three commonly used methods for measuring endurance capacity

James Baxter-Gilbert*, Max Mühlenhaupt, Martin J. Whiting

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Measures of endurance (time to exhaustion) have been used to address a wide range of questions in ecomorphological and physiological research, as well as being used as a proxy for survival and fitness. Swimming, stationary (circular) track running, and treadmill running are all commonly used methods for measuring endurance. Despite the use of these methods across a broad range of taxa, how comparable these methods are to one another, and whether they are biologically relevant, is rarely examined. We used Australian water dragons (Intellagama lesueurii), a species that is morphologically adept at climbing, swimming, and running, to compare these three methods of endurance and examined if there is repeatability within and between trial methods. We found that time to exhaustion was not highly repeatable within a method, suggesting that single measures or a mean time to exhaustion across trials are not appropriate. Furthermore, we compared mean maximal endurance times among the three methods, and found that the two running methods (i.e., stationary track and treadmill) were similar, but swimming was distinctly different, resulting in lower mean maximal endurance times. Finally, an individual's endurance rank was not repeatable across methods, suggesting that the three endurance trial methods are not providing similar information about an individual's performance capacity. Overall, these results highlight the need to carefully match a measure of performance capacity with the study species and the research questions being asked so that the methods being used are behaviorally, ecologically, and physiologically relevant.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)583-591
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


    • Intellagama lesueurii
    • lizard
    • locomotion
    • performance capacity
    • reptile
    • stamina
    • water dragon


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