An architectural understanding of natural sway frequencies in trees

Jackson T., Shenkin Alexander, Moore J., Bunce A., Van Emmerik T., Kane B., Burcham D., James K., Selker J., Calders K., Origo N., Disney Mathias, Burt A., Wilkes P., Raumonen P., Gonzalez de Tanago Menaca J., Lau A., Herold Martin, Goodman R.C., Fourcaud Thierry, Malhi Yadvinder. 2019. An architectural understanding of natural sway frequencies in trees. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 16 (155):ID 20190116, 9 p.

Journal article ; Article de recherche ; Article de revue à facteur d'impact
Published version - Anglais
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Abstract : The relationship between form and function in trees is the subject of a longstanding debate in forest ecology and provides the basis for theories concerning forest ecosystem structure and metabolism. Trees interact with the wind in a dynamic manner and exhibit natural sway frequencies and damping processes that are important in understanding wind damage. Tree-wind dynamics are related to tree architecture, but this relationship is not well understood. We present a comprehensive view of natural sway frequencies in trees by compiling a dataset of field measurement spanning conifers and broadleaves, tropical and temperate forests. The field data show that a cantilever beam approximation adequately predicts the fundamental frequency of conifers, but not that of broadleaf trees. We also use structurally detailed tree dynamics simulations to test fundamental assumptions underpinning models of natural frequencies in trees. We model the dynamic properties of greater than 1000 trees using a finite-element approach based on accurate three-dimensional model trees derived from terrestrial laser scanning data. We show that (1) residual variation, the variation not explained by the cantilever beam approximation, in fundamental frequencies of broadleaf trees is driven by their architecture; (2) slender trees behave like a simple pendulum, with a single natural frequency dominating their motion, which makes them vulnerable to wind damage and (3) the presence of leaves decreases both the fundamental frequency and the damping ratio. These findings demonstrate the value of new three-dimensional measurements for understanding wind impacts on trees and suggest new directions for improving our understanding of tree dynamics from conifer plantations to natural forests.

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Forêt, forêt résineuse, Vent, Morphologie végétale, Propriété mécanique

Mots-clés complémentaires : Architecture végétale, Architecture des arbres

Mots-clés libres : Tree biomechanics, Windfirmness, TLS, LiDAR, Mechanical behaviour

Classification Agris : K01 - Forestry - General aspects
F50 - Plant structure
F62 - Plant physiology - Growth and development
P40 - Meteorology and climatology
F40 - Plant ecology
U10 - Computer science, mathematics and statistics

Champ stratégique Cirad : CTS 1 (2019-) - Biodiversité

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Jackson T., University of Oxford (GBR) - auteur correspondant
  • Shenkin Alexander, University of Oxford (GBR)
  • Moore J., SCION (NZL)
  • Bunce A., University of Connecticut (USA)
  • Van Emmerik T., Wageningen University (NLD)
  • Kane B., University of Massachusetts (USA)
  • Burcham D., Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (SGP)
  • James K., University of Melbourne (AUS)
  • Selker J., Oregon State University (USA)
  • Calders K., University of Ghent (BEL)
  • Origo N., University College London (GBR)
  • Disney Mathias, University College London (GBR)
  • Burt A., University College London (GBR)
  • Wilkes P., University College London (GBR)
  • Raumonen P., Tampere University of Technology (FIN)
  • Gonzalez de Tanago Menaca J., Wageningen University (NLD)
  • Lau A., Wageningen University (NLD)
  • Herold Martin, Wageningen University (NLD)
  • Goodman R.C., Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SWE)
  • Fourcaud Thierry, CIRAD-BIOS-UMR AMAP (FRA) ORCID: 0000-0001-9475-7239
  • Malhi Yadvinder, University of Oxford (GBR) - auteur correspondant

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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