Daria Monaenkova

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The ability of Lepidoptera, or butterflies and moths, to drink liquids from rotting fruit and wet soil, as well as nectar from floral tubes, raises the question of whether the conventional view of the proboscis as a drinking straw can account for the withdrawal of fluids from porous substrates or of films and droplets from floral tubes. We discovered that(More)
Locomotion emerges from effective interactions of an individual with its environment. Principles of biological terrestrial locomotion have been discovered on unconfined vertical and horizontal substrates. However, a diversity of organisms construct, inhabit, and move within confined spaces. Such animals are faced with locomotor challenges including limited(More)
Collective construction of topologically complex structures is one of the triumphs of social behavior. For example, many ant species construct underground nests composed of networks of tunnels and chambers. Excavation by these 'superorganisms' depends on the biomechanics of substrate manipulation, the interaction of individuals, and media stability and(More)
Root system architecture (RSA) impacts plant fitness and crop yield by facilitating efficient nutrient and water uptake from the soil. A better understanding of the effects of soil on RSA could improve crop productivity by matching roots to their soil environment. We used x-ray computed tomography to perform a detailed three-dimensional quantification of(More)
Soil-dwelling social insects build complex nests. Nest excavation is performed by multiple animals simultaneously and is governed by local interactions of the workers with other nest-mates and their surroundings. To investigate collective confined excavation challenges, we built groups of robotic excavators capable of performing hours of autonomous tunnel(More)
Nest excavation in social insects is an integral part of a colony's life cycle. Soil-dwelling colonies build complex systems of narrow underground chambers and tunnels spanning thousands of insect body lengths below the ground. The nest excavation is performed by multiple animals simultaneously and is governed by local interactions of the workers with(More)
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