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SYNOPSIS: Functional-anatomical work on complex structural systems is handicapped by several difficulties: (1) Lack of established guidelines on how to select the structures that are relevant for the intended study, (2) lack of methods to check the accuracy of the description of a system's morphology, and (3) the need to integrate a large mass of results obtained through a variety of approaches taken from different disciplines, such as anatomy, physiology, physics, biochemistry, ecology and evolutionary biology. Suggestions to alleviate some of the problems include (1) to use information on the physiological and physical properties of the tissues in a system and on biomechanical principles governing the interactions among these tissues to help in the selection and checking process necessary during the morphological description, (2) to construct a structural model of the system by condensing the morphological description, (3) to construct a functional model on the basisof the structural model by using physiological, physical and biomechanical principles that govern the functioning and interactions of the tissues and elements of the system, and (4) to test the functional model through independent observations, experiments or natural experiments (i.e., individual variations). © 1988 by the American Society of Zoologists.

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Integrative and Comparative Biology

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