Dr. Petra Ditsche
While my earlier work focused on water protection and stream ecology, my current research focuses on the biomechanics of aquatic animals. One of my main interests is to understand the adaptations of animals to challenging habitats such as making a living in strong currents. To withstand the forces of rapidly flowing water, animals have evolved several morphological adaptations. Among those are attachment devices, which help benthic animals to keep their position in strong currents. My research interest includes both, attachment in freshwater animals as well as in vertebrates and invertebrates of the marine intertidal. We have made some progress in understanding the interplay of attachment devices with the surface structure of substrates and their fouling communities. We also explore the impact of shape and surface structure on the flow forces that the animals experience. Other areas of my research explore biomechanical properties of the skin of marine vertebrates. This comprehends the biomechanical properties of the skin of marine mammals in connection to their sensitivity to a potential blade strike. We are also comparing the biomechanical properties of the cartilage of a variety of shark and ray species in relation to their feeding type and morphology of the feeding apparatus.
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