Affiliate - Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment;John B. and Jean De Nault Professor of Marine Sciences
Hopkins Marine Station
Currently, research in Professor Denny's laboratory centers on the mechanical design of intertidal organisms. This subject is studied at many different levels of organization, from the molecular through the material, structural and organismal to the ecological. Of particular interest is the role of hydrodynamic forces in determining mechanical design. Transducers have been developed to measure water velocities and accelerations and the forces imposed on intertidal plants and animals. Properties such as the adhesive tenacities of the organisms are measured. These data then provide a method for calculating the mechanical limits to size, the "safety factors" used by limpets and barnacles, and the potential "disturbability" of these organisms as a function of season, wave height and microhabitat. The biological interactions among intertidal organisms have been well studied, and Professor Denny's approach promises interesting insights into the importance of mechanical factors in intertidal ecology and in the evolution of invertebrates and macroalgae.