University Of Tasmania

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Reconfiguration as a prerequisite for survival in highly unstable flow-dominated habitats

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 02:03 authored by Harder, DL, Speck, O, Catriona HurdCatriona Hurd, Speck, T
Unstable and mechanically demanding habitats like wind-exposed open fields or the wave-swept intertidal require rapid adaptive processes to ensure survival. The mechanism of passive reconfiguration was analyzed in two plant models exposed to irregular flow of water or air, two species of the brown seaweed Durvillaea and the giant reed Arundo donax. Irrespective of the surrounding media and the subsequent Reynolds numbers (Re ~ 105 - 107), reconfiguration seems to be the key strategy for streamlining to avoid overcritical drag-induced loads. This passive mechanism is also discussed in the context of the requirement of a maximized surface area for light interception, so that morphological adaptations to rapid reconfiguration represent at least a bifactorial optimization. Both tested plant models exhibited the same principles in streamlining. At a specific threshold value, the proportionality between drag forces and flow velocity can be reduced from the second power close to an almost linear relation. This empirically derived relation could be characterized by a figure of merit or Vogel number (B). A value close to B = -1, resulting in a linear increase of drag force with velocity, was found at higher velocities for both the seaweeds and the giant reed, as well as for a variety of plants described in the literature. It is therefore concluded that the ability to reduce velocity-dependent drag force to a linear relation is a potentially important adaptation for plants to survive in unstable flow-dominated habitats.


Publication title

Journal of Plant Growth Regulation








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies



Place of publication

175 Fifth Ave, New York, USA, Ny, 10010

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Copyright 2004 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.

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Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences