How do animals and plants function mechanically?
Our research aims to clarify how animals work and how they are adapted to survive in their environment. We study insect locomotion with a focus on the biomechanics of surface adhesion and its ecological context in interactions with plants. One of the questions we have been investigating is how insects are able to run with sticky feet and what adaptations they have evolved to solve the conflict between adhesion and locomotion.
We study insect-plant interactions where mechanical factors play a dominant role (leafcutting ants, Macaranga ant-plants and Nepenthes pitcher plants). Apart from field work (mainly in tropical Southeast Asia), the methods used in our laboratory range from force measurement at different size scales to morphometry, interference/fluorescence and electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy and 3D high speed motion analysis.