IGN 7-5 - Making bed sheets out of biodiversity

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
C123, Oregon Convention Center
Clint Penick, Department of Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, Robert R. Dunn, Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC and Adrian A. Smith, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, NC
Biodiversity is measured in the details. For cataloguing the most biodiverse corner of life—insects—scientists hunch over microscopes to describe fine differences in shape and form that distinguish species. Yet most of this diversity goes unnoticed by the public and is rarely understood by scientists in terms of function. We partnered with industrial designers to catalogue differences in cuticle patterns of ants, which range from perfectly smooth to covered in dimples or fingerprint-like patterns. Designers used these patterns to create a line of “micro-animal print” textiles, while we used their work to inspire research into their function.