J.Comparat.Physiol.A 193(4), 445-459, 2007

FINITE ELEMENT MODELING OF ARACHNID SLIT SENSILLA - I. THE MECHANICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF DIFFERENT SLIT ARRAYS

B. Hößl¹², H.J. Böhm¹, F.G. Rammerstorfer¹, F.G. Barth²

¹Institute of Lightweight Design and Structural Biomechanics,
TU Wien, Vienna, Austria
²Life Sciences, Department for Neurobiology and Behavioral Sciences,
Biomechanics,
University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria


Abstract - Arachnid strain sensitive slit sensilla are elongated openings in the cuticle with aspect ratios (slit length l / slit width b) of up to 100. Planar Finite Element (FE) models are used to calculate the relative slit face displacements, D(c), at the centers of single slits and of arrangements of mechanically interacting slits under uni-axial compressive far-field loads. Our main objective is to quantitatively study the role of the following geometrical parameters in stimulus transformation: aspect ratio, slit shape, geometry of the slits' centerlines, load direction, lateral distance S, longitudinal shift λ, and difference in slit length Δl between neighboring slits. Slit face displacements are primarily sensitive to slit length and load direction but little affected by aspect ratios between 20 and 100. In stacks of five parallel slits at lateral distances typical of lyriform organs (S=0.03l) the longitudinal shift lambda substantially influences slit compression. A change of λ from 0 to 0.85 l causes changes of up to 420% in D(c). Even minor morphological variations in the arrangements can substantially influence the stimulus transformation. The site of transduction in real slit sensilla does not always coincide with the position of maximum slit compression predicted by simplified models.


(hjb,070403)