Andrew Mountcastle – Functional Morphology and Biomechanics

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Research Overview

I am broadly interested in understanding how organisms move through complex, dynamic and often unpredictable environments, and how their morphology reflects adaptations to these locomotory challenges.  My research focuses primarily on insect flight, which offers an exciting system for exploring the links between physiology, ecology and evolution because insects exhibit broad diversity, yet many aspects of flight performance are tightly linked to fitness. Insect flight physiology and morphology are the focus of intense, often competing selective pressures that have truly pushed the envelope of organismal design. Work in my lab lies at the interface of biomechanics, physiology, ecology, evolution, and fluid and structural mechanics. My students and I combine novel experimental techniques, comparative approaches and computational modeling to answer fundamental questions about the design and performance of flying insects.

Visit my lab website

Selected Publications

Mountcastle A.M., Alexander T.M., Switzer C.M. and Combes S.A. (2016) Wing wear reduces bumblebee flight performance in a dynamic obstacle course. Biol. Lett.12(6).

Mountcastle A.M., Ravi S. and Combes S.A. (2015) Nectar vs. pollen loading affects the trade-off between flight stability and maneuverability in bumblebees. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 112(33):10527–10532.

Mountcastle A.M. and Combes S.A. (2014) Biomechanical strategies for mitigating collision damage in insect wings: structural design versus embedded elastic materials. J. Exp. Biol. 217(7):1108–1115.

Selected Mentored Theses

Mistick, Emily (2015) Effects of wing flexibility on bumblebee flight stability in laminar and turbulent airflows.