Vertical Clinging and Leaping Revisited: Locomotion and Habitat Use in the Western Tarsier, Tarsius bancanus Explored Via Loglinear Modeling

RH Crompton, ML Blanchard, Samuel Coward, RM Alexander, Susannah Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Napier and Walker's (1967) locomotor category of vertical clinging and leaping (VC&L) is one of the most familiar in primatology, and tarsiers are probably the most morphologically specialized of its membership. However, the link between vertical clinging and leaping remains unelucidated. We attempt to do so by reanalysis of Crompton's 1985 and 1986 field observations of locomotion and habitat use in Tarsius bancanus, using loglinear modeling. Loglinear modeling is better suited to the categorical variables used in many field studies than more traditional statistics, such as ANOVA, developed for continuous variables. We show that climbing, as well as leaping, is one of the predominant forms of locomotion, and that all other things being equal, tarsiers tend to take off from, and land on, similar sized supports, which suggests that the following findings are not likely to be a result of substrate availability alone. Small body size lead to a prediction that tarsiers should leap down but climb up: this was not sustained: rather leaps tend to be level, and climbing accounts for more height loss than randomly expected. However, a prediction that to avoid energy loss to the substrate, the tarsiers should show a preference for large diameter supports for takeoff when leaping longer distances was supported, although tarsiers do not avoid moderately compliant supports. The prediction from ballistic principles that the longest leaps should start from high-angled supports was only weakly sustained, but low-angled supports tend to be strongly associated with short leaps, suggesting that such supports do not facilitate 45A degrees takeoff trajectories. However, tarsiers displayed a preference for landing on medium-sized supports when leaping long distances, suggesting a preference for balancing the need for stability with minimizing musculoskeletal shock.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)958-979
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


  • diet
  • predation
  • biomechanics
  • home range
  • Tarsius
  • tarsier
  • ecology
  • locomotion


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