Flow-plant interactions at leaf, stem and shoot scales: drag, turbulence, and biomechanics

Ismail Albayrak*, Vladimir Nikora, Oliver Miler, Matthew T. O'Hare

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Flow-plant interactions are experimentally investigated at leaf, stem, and shoot scales in an open-channel flume at a range of Reynolds numbers. The experiments included measurements of instantaneous drag forces acting on leaves, stems, and shoots of the common freshwater plant species Glyceria fluitans, complemented with velocity measurements, high-resolution video recordings, and biomechanical tests of leaf and stem properties. The analyses of bulk statistics, power spectral densities, transfer functions, and cross-correlations of measured velocities and drag forces revealed that flow characteristics, drag force, and plant biomechanical and morphological properties are strongly interconnected and scale-dependent. The plant element-flow interactions can be subdivided into two classes: (I) passive interactions when the drag variability is due to the time variability of the wetted and frontal areas and squared approach velocity (due to the large-scale turbulence); and (II) active interactions representing a range of element-specific instabilities that depend on the element flexural rigidity and morphology. Implications of experimental findings for plant biophysics and ecology are briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-294
Number of pages26
JournalAquatic Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date25 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014


  • aquatic plants
  • drag force
  • flow-plant interactions
  • plant reconfiguration
  • plant biomechanics
  • turbulent open-channel flow
  • fresh-water macrophytes
  • reconfiguration
  • vegetation
  • reduction
  • resistance
  • roughness
  • leaves
  • shape
  • hydrodynamics
  • fluid


Dive into the research topics of 'Flow-plant interactions at leaf, stem and shoot scales: drag, turbulence, and biomechanics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this