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Dr Ulrike Bauer

Biomechanics and ecology of plant-insect interactions

  • Biomechanics, ecology and evolution of plant-insect interactions
  • Functional plant morphology and physiology
  • Mechanical plant defences and trapping mechanisms of carnivorous plants

The mechanical ecology of plants and insects is fascinating, hardly studied, and full of surprise. Understanding how plants use mechanical adaptations to manipulate insects adds another dimension to our current view of these all-important ecological interactions. To this end, my research combines the study of functional plant morphology with elements of biomechanics and field ecology. Research questions include how plants use mechanical adaptations such as slippery surfaces, sticky fluids or specialised material properties to deter or trap insects, and how plants have adapted to withstand the forces of wind, rain and hail during increasingly common severe weather events. I have a special interest in the sophisticated trapping mechanisms of carnivorous plants and have studied the trap function and ecology of pitcher plants for over a decade.

 

 

Research keywords

  • plant-insect interactions
  • biomechanics
  • ecology
  • evolution
  • functional morphology
  • carnivorous plants

Research methods

  • field work
  • manipulation experiments
  • force measurements
  • high-speed video
  • laser vibrometry
  • SEM