Dynamic reconfiguration of aquatic plants and its interrelations with upstream turbulence and drag forces

Fabio Siniscalchi, Vladimir Nikora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the interrelations between flow, fluctuating drag forces, and dynamic reconfiguration experienced by four freshwater plant species in response to turbulent open-channel flow. The study is based on experiments conducted in a laboratory flume using single specimens of Ranunculus penicillatus, Fontinalis antipyretica, Myriophyllum alterniflorum, and Callitriche stagnalis. A significant correlation between drag fluctuations, plant movements, and upstream turbulence was found. The data also revealed that the plants in general exhibited spatial flapping-like motion, with the propagation velocity of perturbations along the plant being approximately constant and comparable to the upstream flow velocity. The analysis of statistical moments, spectra, cross-correlations, and coherence functions provided strong support to the conclusion that the dynamic reconfiguration directly affects the drag force exerted on the plants, in addition to the effect of the upstream turbulence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hydraulic Research
Issue number1
Early online date8 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note


The authors thank Dr Stuart Cameron for his help with the video processing, and the Associate Editor and three anonymous reviewers for providing their detailed and helpful comments. The research was partly supported by the Leverhulme Trust, grant F/00152/Z “Biophysics of flow–plant interactions in aquatic systems”, and was stimulated by the Scientific Research Network WO.027p11N.


  • aquatic vegetation
  • drag
  • dynamic reconfiguration of plants
  • open-channel flow
  • turbulence


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