The focus of our research program is to better understand the origin and evolution of complex integrated systems and the mechanisms that lie at the basis thereof. Essential in such an approach is an understanding of the role of trade-offs (mechanical, energetic) and constraints (architectural, developmental, ontogenetic, etc…). An explicit comparative approach investigating
- the functioning and control of complex systems,
- the performance advantages they bring to an organism in its ecological context, and
- the role of selection versus epigenetic or plastic effects on the evolution of such systems lies at the heart of our research program.
Our research takes advantage of the rich natural history collections available at the MNHN to ask questions pertaining to the role of function and mechanical constraint in the evolution of phenotypic diversity. To do so, experimental approaches quantifying the movements of structures during ecologically relevant behaviors in their full spatial and temporal complexity are coupled to mechanical modeling and the quantification phenotypic variation in three dimensions