Do animals set the course for future changes by manipulating their environment? Answering this heavily disputed, but empirically unexplored question is crucial for our understanding of how the diversity of life is generated. The aim of this project is to reconstruct how animal architectures change throughout time and feed back upon body shapes and functions of their builders. This will be achieved by comparing the structure, assembly and mechanical performance of animal architectures with animal morphology and performance in a global
phylogenetic framework. This novel approach will resolve a long-standing debate on the nature of animal architectures, which will improve wildlife conservation, landscape management and bioprospecting. Impact Statement: By clarifying the biological role of building behaviour this project will help to predict long term responses of wildlife, ecosystems and human life to a changing environment. This is critical for a strategic planning of wildlife and landscape management. The project will set a standard for the broad-scale study of animal architecture function. Furthermore, the study is expected to be a long-lasting idea generator for engineers, architects and artists alike by unveiling optimized structures in flexible fibre-based architectures. The project will foster interdisciplinary collaboration both within Australia and with researchers in the UK, the EU, the US and South America, and enhance Australia’s visibility in silk research.