skip to main content

Search for: All records

Award ID contains: 1930744

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. null (Ed.)
    Synopsis Our article describes the explosive seed dispersal of the Hura crepitans fruit. Through high-speed video analysis of an exploding fruit, we observe that the seeds fly with backspin as opposed to topspin, which was previously assumed. Backspin orients seeds to minimize drag during flight and consequently increases dispersal distance. The seeds’ dispersal distance is estimated by using results from the seeds of Ruellia ciliatiflora, which are similarly shaped but ∼10 times smaller than those of H. crepitans. We note that the effects of lowering drag on the dispersal distance are more pronounced at higher speeds. We also see that the effect of launch height on the dispersal distance of the seeds becomes less consequential at higher launch speeds. We conclude that the increased dispersal distance due to flying with backspin should improve fitness in colonizing new habitats or escaping disease or predation and that comparisons of the seed dispersal mechanisms across species within the Euphorbiaceae and Acanthaceae might help reveal the adaptive significance of this behavior. 
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Synopsis Plants and animals have evolved solutions for a wide range of mechanical problems, such as adhesion and dispersal. Several of these solutions have been sources for bio-inspiration, like the Lotus Effect for self-cleaning surfaces or Velcro for adhesion. This symposium brought together plant and animal biomechanics researchers who tackle similar problems in different systems under the unifying theme of structure–function relations with relevance to bio-inspiration. For both communities it holds true that the structural systems, which have evolved in the respective organisms to address the mechanical challenges mentioned above, are often highly complex. This requires interdisciplinary research involving “classical” experimental biology approaches in combination with advanced imaging methods and computational modeling. The transfer of such systems into biomimetic technical materials and structures comes with even more challenges, like scalability issues and applicability. Having brought all these topics under one umbrella, this symposium presented the forefront of biophysical basic and application-oriented international research with the goal of facilitation knowledge transfer across systems and disciplines. 
    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    Synopsis Animals clinging to natural surfaces have to generate attachment across a range of surface roughnesses in both dry and wet conditions. Plethodontid salamanders can be aquatic, semi-aquatic, terrestrial, arboreal, troglodytic, saxicolous, and fossorial and therefore may need to climb on and over rocks, tree trunks, plant leaves, and stems, as well as move through soil and water. Sixteen species of salamanders were tested to determine the effects of substrate roughness and wetness on maximum cling angle. Substrate roughness had a significant effect on maximum cling angle, an effect that varied among species. Substrates of intermediate roughness (asperity size 100–350 µm) resulted in the poorest attachment performance for all species. Small species performed best on smooth substrates, while large species showed significant improvement on the roughest substrates (asperity size 1000–4000 µm), possibly switching from mucus adhesion on a smooth substrate to an interlocking attachment on rough substrates. Water, in the form of a misted substrate coating and a flowing stream, decreased cling performance in salamanders on smooth substrates. However, small salamanders significantly increased maximum cling angle on wetted substrates of intermediate roughness, compared with the dry condition. Study of cling performance and its relationship to surface properties may cast light onto how this group of salamanders has radiated into the most speciose family of salamanders that occupies diverse habitats across an enormous geographical range. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Suction feeding has evolved independently in two highly disparate animal and plant systems, aquatic vertebrates and carnivorous bladderworts. We review the suction performance of animal and plant suction feeders to explore biomechanical performance limits for aquatic feeders based on morphology and kinematics, in the context of current knowledge of suction feeding. While vertebrates have the greatest diversity and size range of suction feeders, bladderworts are the smallest and fastest known suction feeders. Body size has profound effects on aquatic organismal function, including suction feeding, particularly in the intermediate flow regime that tiny organisms can experience. A minority of tiny organisms suction feed, consistent with model predictions that generating effective suction flow is less energetically efficient and also requires more flow-rate specific power at small size. Although the speed of suction flows generally increases with body and gape size, some specialized tiny plant and animal predators generate suction flows greater than those of suction feeders 100 times larger. Bladderworts generate rapid flow via high-energy and high-power elastic recoil and suction feed for nutrients (relying on photosynthesis for energy). Small animals may be limited by available muscle energy and power, although mouth protrusion can offset the performance cost of not generating high suction pressure. We hypothesize that both the high energetic costs and high power requirements of generating rapid suction flow shape the biomechanics of small suction feeders, and that plants and animals have arrived at different solutions due in part to their different energy budgets. 
    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
    Synopsis Science education is most effective when it provides authentic experiences that reflect professional practices and approaches that address issues relevant to students’ lives and communities. Such educational experiences are becoming increasingly interdisciplinary and can be enhanced using digital fabrication. Digital fabrication is the process of designing objects for the purpose of fabricating with machinery such as 3D-printers, laser cutters, and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines. Historically, these types of tools have been exceptionally costly and difficult to access; however, recent advancements in technological design have been accompanied by decreasing prices. In this review, we first establish the historical and theoretical foundations that support the use of digital fabrication as a pedagogical strategy to enhance learning. We specifically chose to focus attention on 3D-printing because this type of technology is becoming increasingly advanced, affordable, and widely available. We systematically reviewed the last 20 years of literature that characterized the use of 3D-printing in biological education, only finding a total of 13 articles that attempted to investigate the benefits for student learning. While the pedagogical value of student-driven creation is strongly supported by educational literature, it was challenging to make broad claims about student learning in relation to using or creating 3D-printed models in the context of biological education. Additional studies are needed to systematically investigate the impact of student-driven creation at the intersection of biology and engineering or computer science education. 
    more » « less
  6. null (Ed.)
    Synopsis Arboreal ants must navigate variably sized and inclined linear structures across a range of substrate roughness when foraging tens of meters above the ground. To achieve this, arboreal ants use specialized adhesive pads and claws to maintain effective attachment to canopy substrates. Here, we explored the effect of substrate structure, including small and large-scale substrate roughness, substrate diameter, and substrate orientation (inclination), on adhesion and running speed of workers of one common, intermediately-sized, arboreal ant species. Normal (orthogonal) and shear (parallel) adhesive performance varied on sandpaper and natural leaf substrates, particularly at small size scales, but running speed on these substrates remained relatively constant. Running speed also varied minimally when running up and down inclined substrates, except when the substrate was positioned completely vertical. On vertical surfaces, ants ran significantly faster down than up. Ant running speed was slower on relatively narrow substrates. The results of this study show that variation in the physical properties of tree surfaces differentially affects arboreal ant adhesive and locomotor performance. Specifically, locomotor performance was much more robust to surface roughness than was adhesive performance. The results provide a basis for understanding how performance correlates of functional morphology contribute to determining local ant distributions and foraging decisions in the tropical rainforest canopy. 
    more » « less
  7. null (Ed.)
    Synopsis Many flying insects utilize a membranous structure for flight, which is known as a “wing.” However, some spiders use silk fibers for their aerial dispersal. It is well known that spiders can disperse over hundreds of kilometers and rise several kilometers above the ground in this way. However, little is known about the ballooning mechanisms of spiders, owing to the lack of quantitative data. Recently, Cho et al. discovered previously unknown information on the types and physical properties of spiders’ ballooning silks. According to the data, a crab spider weighing 20 mg spins 50–60 ballooning silks simultaneously, which are about 200 nm thick and 3.22 m long for their flight. Based on these physical dimensions of ballooning silks, the significance of these filament-like structures is explained by a theoretical analysis reviewing the fluid-dynamics of an anisotropic particle (like a filament or a high-slender body). (1) The filament-like structure is materially efficient geometry to produce (or harvest, in the case of passive flight) fluid-dynamic force in a low Reynolds number flow regime. (2) Multiple nanoscale fibers are the result of the physical characteristics of a thin fiber, the drag of which is proportional to its length but not to its diameter. Because of this nonlinear characteristic of a fiber, spinning multiple thin ballooning fibers is, for spiders, a better way to produce drag forces than spinning a single thick spider silk, because spiders can maximize their drag on the ballooning fibers using the same amount of silk dope. (3) The mean thickness of fibers, 200 nm, is constrained by the mechanical strength of the ballooning fibers and the rarefaction effect of air molecules on a nanoscale fiber, because the slip condition on a fiber could predominate if the thickness of the fiber becomes thinner than 100 nm. 
    more » « less
  8. null (Ed.)
    Synopsis Insect pectinate antennae are very complex objects and studying how they capture pheromone is a challenging mass transfer problem. A few works have already been dedicated to this issue and we review their strengths and weaknesses. In all cases, a common approach is used: the antenna is split between its macro- and microstructure. Fluid dynamics aspects are solved at the highest level of the whole antenna first, that is, the macrostructure. Then, mass transfer is estimated at the scale of a single sensillum, that is, the microstructure. Another common characteristic is the modeling of sensilla by cylinders positioned transversal to the flow. Increasing efforts in faithfully modeling the geometry of the pectinate antenna and their orientation to the air flow are required to understand the major advantageous capture properties of these complex organs. Such a model would compare pectinate antennae to cylindrical ones and may help to understand why such forms of antennae evolved so many times among Lepidoptera and other insect orders. 
    more » « less
  9. null (Ed.)
    Synopsis The adhesive toe pads of tree frogs have inspired the design of various so-called ‘smooth’ synthetic adhesives for wet environments. However, these adhesives do not reach the attachment performance of their biological models in terms of contact formation, maintenance of attachment, and detachment. In tree frogs, attachment is facilitated by an interconnected ensemble of superficial and internal morphological components, which together form a functional unit. To help bridging the gap between biological and bioinspired adhesives, in this review, we (1) provide an overview of the functional components of tree frog toe pads, (2) investigate which of these components (and attachment mechanisms implemented therein) have already been transferred into synthetic adhesives, and (3) highlight functional analogies between existing synthetic adhesives and tree frogs regarding the fundamental mechanisms of attachment. We found that most existing tree-frog-inspired adhesives mimic the micropatterned surface of the ventral epidermis of frog pads. Geometrical and material properties differ between these synthetic adhesives and their biological model, which indicates similarity in appearance rather than function. Important internal functional components such as fiber-reinforcement and muscle fibers for attachment control have not been considered in the design of tree-frog-inspired adhesives. Experimental work on tree-frog-inspired adhesives suggests that the micropatterning of adhesives with low-aspect-ratio pillars enables crack arresting and the drainage of interstitial liquids, which both facilitate the generation of van der Waals forces. Our analysis of experimental work on tree-frog-inspired adhesives indicates that interstitial liquids such as the mucus secreted by tree frogs play a role in detachment. Based on these findings, we provide suggestions for the future design of biomimetic adhesives. Specifically, we propose to implement internal fiber-reinforcements inspired by the fibrous structures in frog pads to create mechanically reinforced soft adhesives for high-load applications. Contractile components may stimulate the design of actuated synthetic adhesives with fine-tunable control of attachment strength. An integrative approach is needed for the design of tree-frog-inspired adhesives that are functionally analogous with their biological paradigm. 
    more » « less
  10. null (Ed.)
    Synopsis Plant movements are of increasing interest for biomimetic approaches where hinge-free compliant mechanisms (flexible structures) for applications, for example, in architecture, soft robotics, and medicine are developed. In this article, we first concisely summarize the knowledge on plant movement principles and show how the different modes of actuation, that is, the driving forces of motion, can be used in biomimetic approaches for the development of motile technical systems. We then emphasize on current developments and breakthroughs in the field, that is, the technical implementation of plant movement principles through additive manufacturing, the development of structures capable of tracking movements (tropisms), and the development of structures that can perform multiple movement steps. Regarding the additive manufacturing section, we present original results on the successful transfer of several plant movement principles into 3D printed hygroscopic shape-changing structures (“4D printing”). The resulting systems include edge growth-driven actuation (as known from the petals of the lily flower), bending scale-like structures with functional bilayer setups (inspired from pinecones), modular aperture architectures (as can be similarly seen in moss peristomes), snap-through elastic instability actuation (as known from Venus flytrap snap-traps), and origami-like curved-folding kinematic amplification (inspired by the carnivorous waterwheel plant). Our novel biomimetic compliant mechanisms highlight the feasibility of modern printing techniques for designing and developing versatile tailored motion responses for technical applications. We then focus on persisting challenges in the field, that is, how to speed-boost intrinsically slow hydraulically actuated structures and how to achieve functional resilience and robustness, before we propose the establishment of a motion design catalog in the conclusion. 
    more » « less