Mark W. Denny received his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia. He has worked out the molecular biomechanics of some molluscan mucus secretions, and the consequences for the structure and motion of gastropods.
Currently, research in Professor Denny's laboratory centers on the mechanical design of intertidal organisms. This subject is studied at many different levels of organization, from the molecular through the material, structural and organismal to the ecological. Of particular interest is the role of hydrodynamic forces in determining mechanical design. Transducers have been developed to measure water velocities and accelerations and the forces imposed on intertidal plants and animals. Properties such as the adhesive tenacities of the organisms are measured. These data then provide a method for calculating the mechanical limits to size, the "safety factors" used by limpets and barnacles, and the potential "disturbability" of these organisms as a function of season, wave height and microhabitat. The biological interactions among intertidal organisms have been well studied, and Professor Denny's approach promises interesting insights into the importance of mechanical factors in intertidal ecology and in the evolution of invertebrates and macroalgae.
Denny, M.W., L.J.H. Hunt, L.P. Miller, and C.D.G. Harley. 2009. On the prediction of ecological extremes. Ecological Monographs. 79: 397-421.
Denny, M.W. 2008. Limits to running speed in dogs, horses and humans. Journal of Experimental Biology. 211: 3836-3849.
Denny, M.W., B. Helmuth, G.H. Leonard, C.D.G. Harley, L.J.H. Hunt and E.K. Nelson. 2004. Quantifying scale in ecology: lessons from a wave-swept shore. Ecological Monographs. 74(3):513-32.
Denny, M.and L. Roberson . 2002. Blade motion and nutrient flux to the kelp, Eisenia arborea. Biological Bulletin. 203(1):1-13.
Denny, M. and B. Gaylord. 2002. The mechanics of wave-swept algae. Journal of Experimental Biology. 205(10):1355-1362.
Denny, M. 2001. The rewards of chance. Natural History. 110(4):72-76.
Denny, M. and D. Wethey. 2001. Physical processes that generate patterns in marine communities. In: Marine Community Ecology ed. by M.D. Bertness, S.M. Gaines, and M.E. Hixon. Sunderland, Mass: Sinauer Associates, pp. 3-37.
Denny, M.W. and S. Gains. 2000. Chance in biology: Using probability to explore nature. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press.
Denny, M.W. 2000. Limits to optimization: Fluid dynamics, adhesive strength and the evolution of shape in limpet shells. Journal of Experimental Biology. 203(17):2603-2622.
Denny, M.W. and C.A. Blanchette. 2000. Hydrodynamics, shell shape, behavior and survivorship in the owl limpet Lottia gigantea. Journal of Experimental Biology. 203(17):2623-2639.
Denny, M. 1999. Are there mechanical limits to size in wave-swept organisms? Journal of Experimental Biology. 202(23):3463-3467.
Denny, M.W. and R.T. Paine. 1998. Celestial mechanisms, sea-level changes, and intertidal ecology. Biological Bulletin. 194:108-115.
Denny, M.W., B. Gaylord, B. Helmuth, and T. Daniel. 1998. The menace of momentum: dynamic forces on flexible organisms. Limnology and Oceanography. 43:955-968.
Denny, M.W. 1995. Predicting physical disturbance: mechanistic approaches to the study of survivorship on wave-swept shores. Ecological Mongraphs. 65:371-418.
Gaines, S.D. and M.W. Denny. 1993. The largest, smallest, highest, lowest, longest, and shortest: extremes in ecology. Ecology. 74:1677-1692.
Denny, M.W. 1993. Air and Water: The Biology and Physics of Life's Media. Princeton University Press.
Denny, M.W. 1988. Biology and the Mechanics of the Wave-Swept Environment. Princeton University Press.