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Foliage motion under wind, from leaf flutter to branch buffeting.


ABSTRACT: The wind-induced motion of the foliage in a tree is an important phenomenon both for biological issues (photosynthesis, pathogens development or herbivory) and for more subtle effects such as on wi-fi transmission or animal communication. Such foliage motion results from a combination of the motion of the branches that support the leaves, and of the motion of the leaves relative to the branches. Individual leaf dynamics relative to the branch, and branch dynamics have usually been studied separately. Here, in an experimental study on a whole tree in a large-scale wind tunnel, we present the first empirical evidence that foliage motion is actually dominated by individual leaf flutter at low wind velocities, and by branch turbulence buffeting responses at higher velocities. The transition between the two regimes is related to a weak dependence of leaf flutter on wind velocity, while branch turbulent buffeting is strongly dependent on it. Quantitative comparisons with existing engineering-based models of leaf and branch motion confirm the prevalence of these two mechanisms. Simultaneous measurements of the wind-induced drag on the tree and of the light interception by the foliage show the role of an additional mechanism, reconfiguration, whereby leaves bend and overlap, limiting individual leaf flutter. We then discuss the consequences of these findings on the role of wind-mediated phenomena.

SUBMITTER: Tadrist L 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6000177 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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