Research Funding: Interdisciplinary Research Fund

The University of Adelaide awards $28,000 to the project: Fiddler on the Cloud: Understanding the Evolution and Diversity of Form and Function in Crustaceans.

This project partners the School of Computer Science and the School of Biological Sciences to investigate the effects of environmental changes on the species diversity by analysing the evolution of biological shapes and their influencing mechanisms.

Earth’s biological diversity can be easily represented by a vast array of forms. These morphologies are shaped by and affect different functions, including reproduction, mobility, and resource acquisition. This tight and changing relationship between form and function has determined the fate of extinct species. In rapidly changing environments such as those predicted by future climate scenarios, it is of paramount importance to understand how form and function will be affected, and whether species will be able to adapt or will go extinct. Current experimental tools and research have limited predictive ability and studying the evolution of form and function relies on the observation and experimentation with current species. The prediction of the form and function of extinct, future, and even impossible species is an invaluable scientific advancement. Future, impossible, or fictional species in particular will provide a glimpse of how current species could evolve and how their form and function could adapt to changing environmental conditions. The exploration of these species and their functions using a visual environment will provide much needed insight and allow the researchers to focus on various aspects such as water flow, temperature, colour change and courtship among others.

This project has the following main aims:

  1. To explore biological forms and their potential physiological constraints using high-end computational methods. In Computer Science, this novel biological problem provides a platform for the development of new self-evolving algorithms and the optimization of cloud execution and data storage facilities.
  2. Develop collaborative interdisciplinary links between the two CIs and between relevant external partners.
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