The Experimental Zoology Group studies mechanisms of development, growth and adaptation at several levels of structural organisation, from molecules to ecosystem. Two main research programmes are carried out. In the first programme, self-organising mechanisms in the development of fish are studied by combining biophysical and biomolecular approaches (potential applications are fish culture and tissue engineering). The development of trunkmuscles and associated connective tissues are investigated with biomechanical models that predict the changing muscle architecture from physical laws, functional demands and cellular responsiveness to mechanical loads and signal molecules. Gene expression patterns and production of extracellular substances induced by various loading regimes are measured in vivo and in vitro. The mechanics of feeding and locomotion in fish larvae is studied in an effort to explain growth patterns. Spatial models of the diffusion and transport of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nutrients in embryos and larvae of fish are constructed to predict constraints on the sizes and shapes that can be adopted. The second programme (funded by WOTRO) addresses the role of resource partitioning in the evolution of a flock of 15 endemic barb species in Lake Tana inEthiopia. The demands of food properties on the structure, function and feeding behaviour of fish are considered. Feeding performances, diet shifts and linked changes in structural patterns during growth are compared among species. Foodweb dynamics and energy flows are studied for the levels of producers, consumers and predators. Evolutionary forces and speciation mechanisms are investigated using molecular genetic techniques. Insight into the biodiversity is important for a wise management of sustainable fishery in the lake, protecting its genetic resources.