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The Effect of Wind Exposure on the Tree Aerial Architecture and Biomechanics of Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis, Pinaceae)

Franka Brüchert and Barry Gardiner
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 93, No. 10 (Oct., 2006), pp. 1512-1521
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4123134
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Effect of Wind Exposure on the Tree Aerial Architecture and Biomechanics of Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis, Pinaceae)
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Abstract

This paper reports on the effect of wind loading below damaging strength on tree mechanical and physical properties. In a wind-exposed Sitka spruce stand in western Scotland, 60 trees at four different levels of wind exposure (10 m, 30 m, 50 m, 90 m from edge) were characterized for stem and crown size and shape and mechanical properties, including structural Young's modulus ($E_{struct}$), natural frequency, and damping ratio. $E_{struct}$ increased from the stand edge to the mid-forest, but with a large inter-tree variation. Swaying frequency and damping ratio of the trees also increased with distance from edge. Wind-exposed edge trees grew shorter, but more tapered with an overall lower $E_{struct}$, allowing for greater flexural stiffness at the stem base due to the larger diameter and for higher flexibility in the crown region of the stem. The trees at the middle of the stand compensated for their increased slenderness with a higher $E_{struct}$. Thus, for the different requirements for wind-firmness at stand edge and mid-forest, an adapted combination of tree form and mechanical properties allows the best withstanding of wind loads. The results show the requirement to understand the different strategies of trees to adapt to environmental constraints and the heterogeneity of their growth reactions in response to these strategies.

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