This experiment is part of the Animal Superpower Challenge Challenge Grant. Browse more projects

Are The Feet of Gecko Lizards Adapted to Different Surface Textures?

Raised of $8,260 Goal
Ended on 4/30/16
Campaign Ended
  • $279
  • 4%
  • Finished
    on 4/30/16



This project will measure the texture of surfaces used by geckos in the wild in Madagascar. We will use a soft polymer to make surface casts of the trees and rocks we observe geckos using. We will compare these measurements to the toe pads of the species using these surfaces.


Field work in Madagascar can be difficult and getting all of the proper approvals to work with live animals in that country takes time and patience. Planning the travel for this type of field work usually begins a year before the trip actually occurs. I start planning this trip in the fall of 2016 and actually do the trip in the fall of 2017.

Pre Analysis Plan

We hypothesize gecko toe pads will be adapted to differently textured surfaces. After we collect casts of the surfaces geckos use, we will take multiple measurements from these casts, maximum and minimum peak height, and estimate the frequency and wavelength surface texture. We will then use electron microscopy to measure the length, diameter, and density of the hair-like setae on the bottom of each species toes. We will then look for statistical correlations between these measurements. If we find a relationship, for example if we see species with longer setae use rougher surfaces, we can publish these results. This result would also open the door for future studies asking why longer setae actually perform better on rough surfaces? If we do not find a correlation between setae shape and texture, we can again do further experiments asking why not?


Browse the protocols that are part of the experimental methods.