Collaborative Research: Strain in Cartilaginous Fish Skeletons

Project: Research project

Project Details


Collaborative Research: Strain in Cartilaginous Fish Skeletons Collaborative Research: Strain in Cartilaginous Fish Skeletons PROJECT SUMMARY: STRAIN IN CARTILAGINOUS FISH SKELETONS. OVERVIEW: Strain will be measured in cartilaginous fish skeletons with two focal areas. 1) Strain will be quantified for the first time in the skeletal cartilages of fish in order to examine cartilage performance as a skeletal element. This will provide a technique and baseline for measuring strain and biological load in non-bony skeletal elements, whether cartilaginous, keratinous, or other non-rigid supportive tissue. There have been no published studies of in vivo cartilaginous strain of skeletal elements, only articular elements. Preliminary research shows that sonomicrometry, a novel technique for measuring distance using ultrasound, can be used successfully in feeding elasmobranchs. 2) Jaws and their supporting structures have, according to the ecomorphological paradigm, evolved various morphologies that correspond to feeding style. This diversity imposes different levels of strain in the jaws and hyoid when feeding. Performance (strain, material properties, finite element analysis) of jaw and hyoid structures (hyomandibula and ceratohyal) will be measured in 19 chondrichthyan species representing every major order and hyoid morphology and one cartilaginous actinopterygian (sturgeon) that vary morphologically and kinematically in said structures. Cartilage performance will be compared to morphology (element shape and orientation), behavior (suction vs biting prey capture, cutting vs crushing prey processing), ecological niche (dietary generalist vs. specialist) and evolutionary history. The hypothesis will be tested that major morphological transitions in the feeding elements and subsequent changes in feeding kinematics will be evolutionarily correlated with transformations in mechanical performance. INTELLECTUAL MERIT: This research will result in the first in vivo attempt to measure strain in skeletal cartilage, providing quantitative results of broad application and significance. This is an enticing advancement, as there are numerous avenues for study in living organisms that would be enhanced by measurements of strain in various tissues during many kinds of behaviors. The sonomicrometric technique for measuring strain has a very high likelihood of being useful for comparing broadly across diverse organisms, and can be used on other biological tissues, such as vertebrate cartilage, invertebrate chiton, plant lignin, or mushroom stalks. This research will also be the first to relate the structural properties of shark cartilage to morphology and function (strain, load, and kinematics). Biological load will be measured in vivo during disparate feeding behaviors with the goal of understanding the performance of cartilaginous skeletal elements with clear morphological and functional differences within an evolutionary and ecological context. Measurement of cartilage strain will provide insight into the functional significance of the tessellated cartilage that is unique to chondrichthyans. The proposed project will provide valuable new insight into the function of the diverse jaw and hyoid linkages that have evolved in fishes. These results will also enable assessments of function and feeding style to be made of fossil species. BROADER IMPACTS: At least 1 graduate and 3 undergraduate students each from URI, ASU, UMA, and FHL will be involved at all levels in this research. Graduate students will be recruited at the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, broadening participation of underrepresented groups. Lesson plans and field trips with the Paul Cuffee Charter School will occur four times each year. Collaboration with Wilga, Ferry, and Dumont will increase female scientist careers. Interdisciplinary collaboration and techniques will increase with Summers and Dumonts engineering expertise.
Effective start/end date6/1/145/31/19


  • NSF: Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO): $128,895.00


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