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Resilin and the functional morphology of dragonfly wings

Insect wings are remarkable biological structures that exhibit astounding aerodynamic properties, but must also be capable of pliant deformation and resilience in response to excessive loads or collisions. Using a combination of mechanical tests and microscopy, we mapped the distribution of small, elastic protein patches within insect wings that allow the wing to flexibly deform in response to excess loads


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The evolution of butterfly wing shape

Butterflies display stunning diversity in both wing shape and color. I'm interested in understanding how variation in butterfly wing performance relates to aerodynamic performance, and how this functional variation might constrain patterns of evolution. To approach this question,  in collaboration with Dr. Mirko Kovac (Imperial College London), we are using a combination of quantitative shape analysis and computational fluid dynamics to understand the major patterns of shape variation in butterflies, the aerodynamics consequences of these patterns, and their evolution across the major groups of butterflies.



Major axes of shape variation in butterfly wings. Each set of wings represents variation along a separate principal component of shape variation in butterfly wings, with one extreme in red and the other in blue.


Disparity through time across the evolution of butterflies for one major axis of wing shape

Computational fluid dynamic simulation on a butterfly wing. Image courtesy of Sara Vahaji.

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