In the Department of Biology (National University of Mar del Plata), began about 18 years ago a research line focused on bone and muscle anatomy and function. The investigations pointed principally to the South American rodent genus Ctenomys (Caviomorpha; Ctenomyidae), a subterranean mammal known as tuco tucos, occult, tunduques and other common names. Over time, this line of inquiry included other species of caviomorph rodents with different way of life and ecology. Our studies focused also on the behavior of these animals, both under field and laboratory conditions, combined with the estimation of biomechanical parameters of bones. We are interested in measuring the forces implicated in mastication and locomotion. The evolutionary context is a central aspect of our research. Currently, we collaborate with the Histology research group on the subject of histology, histochemistry and function of masticatory and limb muscles. In occasions, contributions have been made on particular aspects of the structure of raptors birds and rays (Biondi 2010; Lucífora and Vassallo, 2002). At present, this research line is carried out by the group Functional Morphology and Behavior.

Functional morphology in caviomorphic rodents. Subjects: Anatomical and physiological analysis of the mandibular apparatus. Biomechanics and allometry. Locomotion. Emphasis on the subterranean rodent genus Ctenomys.
This research line aims to understand the diversity and morphological evolution in a group of South American rodents (Suborder Caviomorpha), emphasizing adaptations to different modes of life, habitat and locomotion. Being a relatively narrow taxonomic group, since it is an infraorder within the Order Rodentia, caviomorph rodents display one of the greatest ecological, morphological and locomotion modes.
Considering a simple trait such as body size, caviomorphs show great diversity. This group includes species whose weight varies from 150 g (certain species of tuco tucos, genus Ctenomys), to species that exceed 15 kg (the aquatic coipo, genus Myocastor), reaching 60 kg in the capybara. There were species of caviomorfos, now extinct, that may have exceeded 1 ton of body weight.

Biomechanics of the mandibular apparatus
The use of finite element analysis, a technique developed by engineers, allows us to study the structure of the mandible and other parts of the skeleton.

Functional morphology and behavior in the bird of prey Milvago chimango. Subjects: Behavior in urban and peri urban environments. Novelty responses. Exploratory behavior.
This line of research aims to understand some of the factors that underlie the huge ecological plasticity of this raptor bird, and how they allow the occupation of diverse environments, even those occupied and modified by human activity. During the last years studies were focusing on learning, both individual and social, in its relation with neophobia, that is, aversion to novel situations or objects. These studies are led by Dr. Laura Marina Biondi. We have seen that chimangos are capable to behave in an innovative way, solving problems related to access to food.

Director
Dr. Aldo Iván Vassallo
Silva Climaco das Chagas, K., Vassallo, A. I., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A., Fiuza de Castro Loguercio, M., & Rocha-Barbosa, O. (2019). Locomotion in the fastest rodent, the mara Dolichotis patagonum (Caviomorpha; Caviidae; Dolichotinae). Locomoción en el roedor más veloz, la mara Dolichotis patagonum (Caviomorpha; Caviidae; Dolichotinae). Mastozoología Neotropical, 26(1), 65–79. https://doi.org/10.31687/saremMN.19.26.1.0.06
Echeverría, A. I., Abdala, V., Longo, M. V., & Vassallo, A. I. (en prensa). Functional morphology and identity of the thenar pad in the subterranean genus Ctenomys (Rodentia, Caviomorpha). Journal of Anatomy. https://doi.org/10.1111/joa.13049
Buezas, G. N., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., Cisilino, A., & Vassallo, A. I. (2019). Mandible strength and geometry in relation to bite force: a study in three caviomorph rodents. Journal of Anatomy, 234(4), 564–575. https://doi.org/10.1111/joa.12946
Echeverría, A. I., Becerra, F., Buezas, G. N., & Vassallo, A. I. (2018). Bite it forward … bite it better? Incisor procumbency and mechanical advantage in the chisel-tooth and scratch-digger genus Ctenomys (Caviomorpha, Rodentia). Zoology, 125, 53–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2017.08.003
Buezas, G., Becerra, F., & Vassallo, A. (2017). Cranial suture complexity in caviomorph rodents (Rodentia; Ctenohystrica). Journal of Morphology, 278(8), 1125–1136. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmor.20699
García, G., Favero, M., & Vassallo, A. I. (2012). Interspecific kleptoparasitism by Brown-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus maculipennis) on two hosts with different foraging strategies: a comparative approach. Emu, 112(3), 227–233. Retrieved from http://www.publish.csiro.au/mu/MU11085
Travaini, A., Vassallo, A. I., García, G., Echeverría, A. I., Zapata, S. C., & Nielsen, S. (2013). Evaluation of neophobia and its potential impact upon predator control techniques: A study on two sympatric foxes in southern Patagonia. Behavioural Processes, 92, 79–87. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376635712002252
Alvarez, G., Díaz, A., Longo, M., Becerra, F., & Vassallo, A. (2012). Histochemical and morphometric analyses of the musculature of the forelimb of the subterranean rodent Ctenomys talarum (Octodontoidea). Anatomia, Histologia, Embryologia, 41(5), 317–325.
Vassallo, A. I., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., & Casinos, A. (2015). Ontogenetic integration between force production and force reception: a case study in Ctenomys (Rodentia: Caviomorpha). Acta Zoologica, 97(2), 232–240. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/download/36699402/Vassallo_et_al-2015-Acta_Zoologica.pdf
Vassallo, A. I. (2016). Analysis of arch-like bones: The rodent mandible as a case study. Journal of Morphology, 277(7), 879–887. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmor.20541/full
Becerra, F., Vassallo, A. I., Echeverría, A. I., & Casinos, A. (2012). Scaling and adaptations of incisors and cheek teeth in caviomorph rodents (Rodentia, Hystricognathi). Journal of Morphology, 273(10), 1150–1162. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmor.20051/full
Echeverría, A. I., Becerra, F., & Vassallo, A. I. (2014). Postnatal ontogeny of limb proportions and functional indices in the subterranean rodent Ctenomys talarum (Rodentia: Ctenomyidae). Journal of Morphology, 275(8), 902–913. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmor.20267/full
Biondi, L. M., Guido, J. M., Bó, M. S., Muzio, R. N., & Vassallo, A. I. (2015). The role of stimulus complexity, age and experience in the expression of exploratory behaviour in the Chimango Caracara, Milvago chimango. Animal Cognition, 18(1), 139–150. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10071-014-0785-5
Biondi, L. M., Guido, J., Madrid, E., Bó, M. S., & Vassallo, A. I. (2013). The effect of age and sex on object exploration and manipulative behavior in a Neotropical raptor, the Chimango Caracara, Milvago chimango. Ethology, 119(3), 221–232. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eth.12056/full
Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., Casinos, A., & Vassallo, A. I. (2014). Another one bites the dust: bite force and ecology in three caviomorph rodents (Rodentia, Hystricognathi). Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology, 321(4), 220–232. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jez.1853/full
Researchers
Dr.Federico Becerra
Silva Climaco das Chagas, K., Vassallo, A. I., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A., Fiuza de Castro Loguercio, M., & Rocha-Barbosa, O. (2019). Locomotion in the fastest rodent, the mara Dolichotis patagonum (Caviomorpha; Caviidae; Dolichotinae). Locomoción en el roedor más veloz, la mara Dolichotis patagonum (Caviomorpha; Caviidae; Dolichotinae). Mastozoología Neotropical, 26(1), 65–79. https://doi.org/10.31687/saremMN.19.26.1.0.06
Buezas, G. N., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., Cisilino, A., & Vassallo, A. I. (2019). Mandible strength and geometry in relation to bite force: a study in three caviomorph rodents. Journal of Anatomy, 234(4), 564–575. https://doi.org/10.1111/joa.12946
Echeverría, A. I., Becerra, F., Buezas, G. N., & Vassallo, A. I. (2018). Bite it forward … bite it better? Incisor procumbency and mechanical advantage in the chisel-tooth and scratch-digger genus Ctenomys (Caviomorpha, Rodentia). Zoology, 125, 53–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2017.08.003
Buezas, G., Becerra, F., & Vassallo, A. (2017). Cranial suture complexity in caviomorph rodents (Rodentia; Ctenohystrica). Journal of Morphology, 278(8), 1125–1136. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmor.20699
Alvarez, G., Díaz, A., Longo, M., Becerra, F., & Vassallo, A. (2012). Histochemical and morphometric analyses of the musculature of the forelimb of the subterranean rodent Ctenomys talarum (Octodontoidea). Anatomia, Histologia, Embryologia, 41(5), 317–325.
Vassallo, A. I., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., & Casinos, A. (2015). Ontogenetic integration between force production and force reception: a case study in Ctenomys (Rodentia: Caviomorpha). Acta Zoologica, 97(2), 232–240. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/download/36699402/Vassallo_et_al-2015-Acta_Zoologica.pdf
Becerra, F., Vassallo, A. I., Echeverría, A. I., & Casinos, A. (2012). Scaling and adaptations of incisors and cheek teeth in caviomorph rodents (Rodentia, Hystricognathi). Journal of Morphology, 273(10), 1150–1162. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmor.20051/full
Echeverría, A. I., Becerra, F., & Vassallo, A. I. (2014). Postnatal ontogeny of limb proportions and functional indices in the subterranean rodent Ctenomys talarum (Rodentia: Ctenomyidae). Journal of Morphology, 275(8), 902–913. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmor.20267/full
Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., Casinos, A., & Vassallo, A. I. (2014). Another one bites the dust: bite force and ecology in three caviomorph rodents (Rodentia, Hystricognathi). Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology, 321(4), 220–232. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jez.1853/full
Dra. Laura Marina Biondi
Isacch, J. P., Bó, M. S., Vega, L., Favero, M., Baladrón, A., Pretelli, M., … Seco Pon, J. P. (2016). Diversidad de Tetrápodos en un mosaico de ambientes del sudeste de la ecorregión Pampeana como herramienta para planificar en conservación. Revista del Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales nueva serie, 18(2), 211–233. Retrieved from http://revista.macn.gov.ar/ojs/index.php/RevMus/article/view/463
Guido, J. M., Biondi, L. M., Vasallo, A. I., & Muzio, R. N. (2017). Neophobia is negatively related to reversal learning ability in females of a generalist bird of prey, the Chimango Caracara, Milvago chimango. Animal Cognition, 20(4), 591–602. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-017-1083-9
Mosto, M., Picasso, M., & Biondi, L. (2016). Long-legged caracaras: terrestrial habitat and hindlimb morphology. Journal of Zoology, 298(4), 274–284.
Canepuccia, A. D., Pascual, J., Biondi, L. M., & Iribarne, O. O. (2015). Small Mammals Along SW-Atlantic Marshes: Diversity Correlates with Inland Habitats but Abundance Correlates with Marsh Characteristics. Wetlands, 35(1), 1–12.
Cavalli, M., Isacch, J. P., Baladrón, A. V., Biondi, L. M., & Bó, M. S. (2016). Differing nest-defence behaviour in urban and rural populations of breeding Burrowing Owls. Emu, 116(4), 428–434.
Cavalli, M., Baladrón, A. V., Isacch, J. P., Biondi, L. M., & Bó, M. S. (2016). Differential risk perception of rural and urban Burrowing Owls exposed to humans and dogs. Behavioural Processes, 124, 60–65. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376635715300942
Biondi, L. M., Guido, J. M., Bó, M. S., Muzio, R. N., & Vassallo, A. I. (2015). The role of stimulus complexity, age and experience in the expression of exploratory behaviour in the Chimango Caracara, Milvago chimango. Animal Cognition, 18(1), 139–150. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10071-014-0785-5
Biondi, L. M., Guido, J., Madrid, E., Bó, M. S., & Vassallo, A. I. (2013). The effect of age and sex on object exploration and manipulative behavior in a Neotropical raptor, the Chimango Caracara, Milvago chimango. Ethology, 119(3), 221–232. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eth.12056/full
Dra. Alejandra Isabel Echeverría
Silva Climaco das Chagas, K., Vassallo, A. I., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A., Fiuza de Castro Loguercio, M., & Rocha-Barbosa, O. (2019). Locomotion in the fastest rodent, the mara Dolichotis patagonum (Caviomorpha; Caviidae; Dolichotinae). Locomoción en el roedor más veloz, la mara Dolichotis patagonum (Caviomorpha; Caviidae; Dolichotinae). Mastozoología Neotropical, 26(1), 65–79. https://doi.org/10.31687/saremMN.19.26.1.0.06
Echeverría, A. I., Abdala, V., Longo, M. V., & Vassallo, A. I. (en prensa). Functional morphology and identity of the thenar pad in the subterranean genus Ctenomys (Rodentia, Caviomorpha). Journal of Anatomy. https://doi.org/10.1111/joa.13049
Buezas, G. N., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., Cisilino, A., & Vassallo, A. I. (2019). Mandible strength and geometry in relation to bite force: a study in three caviomorph rodents. Journal of Anatomy, 234(4), 564–575. https://doi.org/10.1111/joa.12946
Echeverría, M. L., Alonso, S. I., & Comparatore, V. M. (2017). Survey of the vascular plants of Sierra Chica, the untouched area of the Paititi Natural Reserve (southeastern Tandilia mountain range, Buenos Aires province, Argentina). Check List, 13(6), 1003–1036. https://doi.org/10.15560/13.6.1003
Echeverría, A. I., Becerra, F., Buezas, G. N., & Vassallo, A. I. (2018). Bite it forward … bite it better? Incisor procumbency and mechanical advantage in the chisel-tooth and scratch-digger genus Ctenomys (Caviomorpha, Rodentia). Zoology, 125, 53–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2017.08.003
Travaini, A., Vassallo, A. I., García, G., Echeverría, A. I., Zapata, S. C., & Nielsen, S. (2013). Evaluation of neophobia and its potential impact upon predator control techniques: A study on two sympatric foxes in southern Patagonia. Behavioural Processes, 92, 79–87. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376635712002252
Vassallo, A. I., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., & Casinos, A. (2015). Ontogenetic integration between force production and force reception: a case study in Ctenomys (Rodentia: Caviomorpha). Acta Zoologica, 97(2), 232–240. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/download/36699402/Vassallo_et_al-2015-Acta_Zoologica.pdf
Becerra, F., Vassallo, A. I., Echeverría, A. I., & Casinos, A. (2012). Scaling and adaptations of incisors and cheek teeth in caviomorph rodents (Rodentia, Hystricognathi). Journal of Morphology, 273(10), 1150–1162. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmor.20051/full
Echeverría, A. I., Becerra, F., & Vassallo, A. I. (2014). Postnatal ontogeny of limb proportions and functional indices in the subterranean rodent Ctenomys talarum (Rodentia: Ctenomyidae). Journal of Morphology, 275(8), 902–913. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmor.20267/full
Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., Casinos, A., & Vassallo, A. I. (2014). Another one bites the dust: bite force and ecology in three caviomorph rodents (Rodentia, Hystricognathi). Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology, 321(4), 220–232. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jez.1853/full
Lic. Guido Buezas
Buezas, G. N., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., Cisilino, A., & Vassallo, A. I. (2019). Mandible strength and geometry in relation to bite force: a study in three caviomorph rodents. Journal of Anatomy, 234(4), 564–575. https://doi.org/10.1111/joa.12946
Echeverría, A. I., Becerra, F., Buezas, G. N., & Vassallo, A. I. (2018). Bite it forward … bite it better? Incisor procumbency and mechanical advantage in the chisel-tooth and scratch-digger genus Ctenomys (Caviomorpha, Rodentia). Zoology, 125, 53–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2017.08.003
Buezas, G., Becerra, F., & Vassallo, A. (2017). Cranial suture complexity in caviomorph rodents (Rodentia; Ctenohystrica). Journal of Morphology, 278(8), 1125–1136. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmor.20699
Dr. Federico Becerra
Silva Climaco das Chagas, K., Vassallo, A. I., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A., Fiuza de Castro Loguercio, M., & Rocha-Barbosa, O. (2019). Locomotion in the fastest rodent, the mara Dolichotis patagonum (Caviomorpha; Caviidae; Dolichotinae). Locomoción en el roedor más veloz, la mara Dolichotis patagonum (Caviomorpha; Caviidae; Dolichotinae). Mastozoología Neotropical, 26(1), 65–79. https://doi.org/10.31687/saremMN.19.26.1.0.06
Buezas, G. N., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., Cisilino, A., & Vassallo, A. I. (2019). Mandible strength and geometry in relation to bite force: a study in three caviomorph rodents. Journal of Anatomy, 234(4), 564–575. https://doi.org/10.1111/joa.12946
Echeverría, A. I., Becerra, F., Buezas, G. N., & Vassallo, A. I. (2018). Bite it forward … bite it better? Incisor procumbency and mechanical advantage in the chisel-tooth and scratch-digger genus Ctenomys (Caviomorpha, Rodentia). Zoology, 125, 53–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2017.08.003
Buezas, G., Becerra, F., & Vassallo, A. (2017). Cranial suture complexity in caviomorph rodents (Rodentia; Ctenohystrica). Journal of Morphology, 278(8), 1125–1136. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmor.20699
Alvarez, G., Díaz, A., Longo, M., Becerra, F., & Vassallo, A. (2012). Histochemical and morphometric analyses of the musculature of the forelimb of the subterranean rodent Ctenomys talarum (Octodontoidea). Anatomia, Histologia, Embryologia, 41(5), 317–325.
Vassallo, A. I., Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., & Casinos, A. (2015). Ontogenetic integration between force production and force reception: a case study in Ctenomys (Rodentia: Caviomorpha). Acta Zoologica, 97(2), 232–240. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/download/36699402/Vassallo_et_al-2015-Acta_Zoologica.pdf
Becerra, F., Vassallo, A. I., Echeverría, A. I., & Casinos, A. (2012). Scaling and adaptations of incisors and cheek teeth in caviomorph rodents (Rodentia, Hystricognathi). Journal of Morphology, 273(10), 1150–1162. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmor.20051/full
Echeverría, A. I., Becerra, F., & Vassallo, A. I. (2014). Postnatal ontogeny of limb proportions and functional indices in the subterranean rodent Ctenomys talarum (Rodentia: Ctenomyidae). Journal of Morphology, 275(8), 902–913. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmor.20267/full
Becerra, F., Echeverría, A. I., Casinos, A., & Vassallo, A. I. (2014). Another one bites the dust: bite force and ecology in three caviomorph rodents (Rodentia, Hystricognathi). Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology, 321(4), 220–232. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jez.1853/full